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Freestylers make their case at Lake Placid



The most recent World Cup freestyle event at Lake Placid, New York likely changed everything for the Canadian Team, with athletes making the most of their last chance to qualify for the Olympics.

Canadians continued to dominate on the women's side in ski cross with Kelsey Serwa picking up her second consecutive win. The previous win was something of a letdown for Serwa after weather forced cancellation of the brackets and qualifier times instead counted for the results.

"After the way things went with Alpe d'Huez and not running the final, this win felt so much better... I was fastest on that course and proved it," said the former ski racer, who made the jump to ski cross last season.

Whistler's Ashleigh McIvor also made the final but finished her day in fourth place after a bad start. Danielle Poleschuk made her case for the Olympic team with an eighth place finish. Aleisha Cline of Squamish placed 14 th and missed her chance to qualify for the Olympic team. Julia Murray made the Olympic team earlier in the season and did not start at Lake Placid.

On the men's side Chris Del Bosco took the gold medal after winning every single heat, earning his second victory and third medal of the season.

Dave Duncan made the Olympic team with a bronze medal performance, his first this season. Whistler's Brian Bennett was seventh, his best result so far this season. Brady Leman was ninth and Stanley Hayer 10 th . Whistler's Davey Barr was shut out of the finals and a spot on the Olympic team, despite the fact that he is easily the most experienced racer on the team.

The drama was even higher the previous day in the aerials competition, where Ryan Blais missed the Olympic team once again despite his bronze medal performance at Lake Placid. Unfortunately for Blais, who was also sidelined for the 2006 Winter Games after just missing the cut, teammate Warren Shouldice had a slightly better jump score to take the silver medal by just 0.75 points. That meant Shouldice snapped up the fourth spot on the men's aerials team. Shouldice will be joining Steve Omischl and Kyle Nissen, who had already qualified for the team.

Olivier Rochon was a career-best sixth at Lake Placid while Omischl was ninth.

Because of the inclusion of ski cross under the freestyle skiing banner and the limitation of just 18 athletes for the Olympics the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association was forced to limit the number of men and women representing the country in each freestyle event - despite the fact that Canada easily qualified the maximum number of athletes in each event, with the exception of women's aerials.

On the women's side Amber Peterson finished a solid ninth at Lake Placid, but it wasn't enough to earn a spot on the Olympic team.

"I've been making finals and I feel I'm on top of my game but I haven't been getting the results," said a resigned Peterson after the competition. It looks like the 2010 Olympics are... well, they are done for me."

The first event at Lake Placid was the moguls. For the first time this season no Canadians made the podium.

Alexandre Bilodeau came closest with a fourth place finish, making a mistake on the second jump of his final run. He was happy with his day given the fact that he was skiing on an injured ankle.

"The ankle injury isn't serious and in a week it will be gone," said Bilodeau. "There's still a lot of room for improvement and I know I'll need to turn it up a notch at the Games. Everyone's going to be fighting hard for those medals."

Philippe Marquis was sixth, Cedric Rochon was 10 th in his first World Cup final and Warren Tanner was 15 th .

The Americans swept the podium on the women's side with Hannah Kearney first, Shannon Bahrke second and Heather McPhie third. Chloe Dufour-Lapointe was the top Canadian, fifth, making a strong bid for the women's Olympic team. Kristi Richards was ninth, Maxime Dufour-Lapointe 11 th and Audrey Robichaud 15 th .

Jennifer Heil, secure in her Olympic spot and in the World Cup rankings, opted not to compete.