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Air Canada takes four medals at World Championships



Freestyler team earns one in moguls, three in aerials

The Canadian Freestyle Ski Team did not field a world champion in any of the three disciplines at the 2003 Freestyle FIS World Championships in Park City, but the team can hold its head high with four medals and strong showings in every event. If anything, the results from this year’s competition confirm Canada’s position as a superpower on the freestyle circuit.

World Cup rookie Stephanie St. Pierre set the tone for the weekend with a bronze medal finish in the moguls. The 17-year-old, who started the season as a member of the national development team, won her first World Cup gold medal in dual moguls the week before the World Championships, and led a group of four Canadians into the finals at Park City by qualifying in third place. All four Canadians went on to finish in the top-10 in the 16-skier finals on Jan. 31.

"This is going to change my life, for sure," said St. Pierre. "I’m really psyched, but I don’t believe it yet. I’m like a little child."

The gold medal went to Kari Traa of Norway, the most dominant woman in mogul skiing in recent years. She posted the highest marks for her turns and the fastest time to the bottom by more than 3.5 seconds to finish with a final score of 27.99.

Michelle Roark of the U.S. led the American team to its most successful World Championship in a long time with her silver medal performance. She had the most air points as well as the second-best best turn points to finish with 27.13.

St. Pierre was fifth in turns, third in air and the second fastest skier, to finish with the bronze medal and a score of 26.46.

Also for Canada, Elisa Kurylowicz of Manotick, Ontario, finished in sixth place, Kristi Richards of Summerland, B.C., finished eighth, and Tami Bradley of Vancouver and Whistler was ninth.

For the women’s team, the World Championships marked the first time that every member of the team in the contest qualified for the finals.

In the men’s moguls, Stephane Rochon of St-Sauveur, Quebec, was the lone Canadian to qualify for the finals. He was on his way to the podium when an awkward jump and landing off the second jump interrupted a near-perfect run.

"I feel I never skied the middle section that nicely in my career, but my bottom jump was the main problem," said Rochon, who made his seventh top-10 finish at the World Championships since 1995.

"I tried to level myself and tried a double-twister spread, but it wasn’t the cleanest double-twister spread I’ve done," he said.