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2011-2012 a year to remember

Canadians rake in medals and make history on World Cup stage



If the 2014 Winter Games were held tomorrow there's a good chance that Canada could beat the global record of 14 gold medals that it set in 2010, and our best Games performance ever.

It's been an extraordinary year for Canada's winter athletes, with a medal haul that's second to none. And while the glory was overshadowed by tragedy at times — the deaths of national team athletes Sarah Burke and Nik Zoricic cast a long shadow — 2011-2012 is one for the record books.

Freestylers make it seven in a row

The Canadian Freestyle Ski Team entered the season with low expectations. Most of the senior aerials team had retired and Olympic champion Alexandre Bilodeau and veteran Kelly Richards were taking the season off. Aerials World Champion Warren Shouldice has also been sidelined with a head injury since December.

And yet the team coasted to it's seventh consecutive Nations Cup title on the World Cup circuit. Mikael Kingsbury made the podium every event this season and won eight gold medals (13 in total) to take the men's Crystal Globe for moguls, while Olivier Rochon — who was sidelined last season — earned his first World Cup medals ever (five podium appearances plus a win) and jumped consistently enough to take the Crystal Globe for aerials.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe finished her season with a gold medal and placed second overall in the women's moguls standings with eight medals to her credit.

Add Phillippe Marquis' four medals, Chloe Dufour-Lapointe's two medals, Audrey Robichaud's two medals and individual medals from Marc-Antoine Gagnon, Cedric Rochon, and Alexandre Bilodeau, the moguls and aerials teams combined for 37 medals.

The other events in the sport, halfpipe and slopestyle, are still underway this season but Kaya Turski has won every slopestyle competition she's entered this year and Rosalind Groenewoud leads the Association of Freeskiing Professionals (AFP) halfpipe standings with wins at X Games and European X Games. Noah Bowman is ranked third on the AFP circuit with a silver medal at X Games.

Ski Cross depth shines through

The Canadian Ski Cross team and the World Cup season ended early this year with the death of racer Nik Zoricic leading to the cancellations of the last two races of the season. It was a tragic finish for what was otherwise an inspiring year for the team.

The season started with bad news and more bad news. Olympic champion Ashleigh McIvor and Julia Murray, second in the 2011 World Championships, were both sidelined as a result of knee injuries from the previous season. Kelsey Serwa, the World Champion and Canada's top racer last season, joined them on the sidelines in January, but not before she won two gold medals to kick off the season.

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