Sports » Features

Canadian freestyle team continues streak



Team earns five more medals at home in Fernie

Heading into the Suzuki FIS World Cup at Fernie last weekend, members of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team hoped to keep their streak alive – in the past two weeks the team has won a total of 10 medals.

They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

The Canadian medal tally for the past three weeks now stands at 15 medals between the aerials and moguls teams. Of the five medals they claimed at home in Fernie, two were gold, two silver and one bronze.

The action got underway on Saturday, Jan. 24 with a dual moguls competition. After going head to head with the best in the world, Elisa Kurylowicz of Manotick, Ont. and Jim Schiman of Cranbrook, B.C. emerged with victories.

Canada has never had a double-gold victory in moguls before this season, and now they have two – at Mont Tremblant Marc-Andre Moreau of Chambly, Quebec and Stephanie St-Pierre of Victoriaville took gold medals in single moguls.

"I barely skied, I barely trained this week," said a shocked Kurylowicz.

The 22-year-old stayed off her skis for most of the week to rest a pulled groin muscle, but went on to post some of the fastest runs of the day. The muscle bothered her, she said, but by the time she reached the finals she was too focused to care.

"For me, speed is a weakness, so duals push me to go faster. I really had to make a mental note to turn on those turbo jets."

St-Pierre, 18, came close to being on the podium as well, but lost a close bronze-medal dual in the small finals against Shelly Robertson of the U.S. St-Pierre, the defending champion at Fernie, lost to Kurylowicz in the semi-finals.

Whistler’s Sylvia Kerfoot also qualified for the finals, and went on to finish eighth. Jennifer Simm of Prince George was 10 th , and Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alberta was 11 th to give Canada five athletes in the top-12.

In the men’s mogul contest, Schiman, who is coming back this season after knee surgery, defeated Nathan Roberts of the U.S. to win his first gold medal in duals. His best finish before last weekend was a fifth place.

"After everything I’ve gone through, especially with the injury the last couple of seasons, it’s been a long time coming," said Schiman.

"It’s something I always knew I could do. There were times you felt it’s not going to happen, but you have to keep believing."

Vladimir Tiumentsev of Russia edged out Lauri Lassila of Finland for the bronze.

Moreau and Jean-Francois Therrien of Laval, Quebec were 10 th and 12 th respectively.

The aerials on Sunday saw Toronto’s Veronika Bauer snap out of her current slump to win a silver medal. She won her last medal back in September in the Australian World Cup.

"I was starting to find the confidence, so I wasn’t that upset (with my results). I was jumping well in training," she said.

Alisa Camplin of Australia won her fourth World Cup of the season to solidify her lead in the World Cup standings. Elizabeth Gardner of Australia won the bronze medal.

Deidra Dionne of Red Deer, Alberta was eighth and Amber Peterson of Thunder Bay was 14 th .

In the men’s competition, Stever Omischl of North Bay Ontario claimed his fifth World Cup win of the season, finishing just behind Alex Valenta of the Czech Republic.

Omischl was not going to compete at all because of a strained hamstring, but made a last-minute decision to take part.

"This morning I had a five per cent chance of competing, but I took a bunch of Advil and Tylenol," he said.

Ryan Blais of Grande Prairie, Alberta finished third. He broke his fibula in Fernie last year, which caused him to miss the rest of the season.

"This is total redemption," said Blais.

Jeff Bean of Ottawa was fifth and Ryan Snow of Calgary was 11 th .

The freestyle team will be at Deer Valley, Utah this weekend for moguls, dual moguls and aerials competition.