With most of Canada's senior aerials team retiring in recent years, Olivier Rochon came out of nowhere last season to win the overall Crystal Globe for his sport with five podium appearances, including his first career World Cup podium and first World Cup win. However, he was the only bright spot for a team that was both rebuilding and plagued by injuries, and was the lone Canadian jumper at most events.
This season it appears that Rochon has some company, and competition, with Travis Gerrits earning a silver medal this past Saturday at the World Cup in Val Saint-Come, Quebec. Rochon had an off day, but still managed to finish in the top 10 in eighth place overall.
"I'm kind of on top of the world," said Gerrits. "I couldn't be happier. To come back from my injury last season and to stomp my jumps here, it's just awesome."
Gerrits said his degree of difficulty is still on the low side, but the team is ramping up slowly after a late training start and he said he'll add another twist to his jump for next week's competition in Lake Placid.
"The full, full, full was the only jump I had left in my arsenal before I start doing bigger jumps next week in (Lake) Placid. So to podium here with a lower DD means my coaches and I are doing all the right things technically; we're taking it slow which is the right thing to do with my training."
As for Rochon, he said he struggled in the soft conditions. "I was happy with qualifications, but then in finals I was good in the air but I landed a little bit deep and my ski went into a bit of a split position; as I was bringing them back I caught an edge and it was very heavy snow, so I fell. If you fall after five metres of showing control (the judges) don't deduct it, but I was a little short on that one.
"I would be more bummed out if it was something technical I did, it was more (a case) of bad luck. We were in the fog, and warm, really heavy snow so when you land you make a big hole."
Jean-Christophe Andre also advanced to the 12-jumper finals but finished his day in 11th. Dave Blais, getting his first World Cup start, was 22nd.
Dmitri Dashinski of Belarus claimed the gold medal, while Hang Zhou of China won bronze. David Morris of Australia rounded out the four-jumper super final.
On the women's side, the only Canadian in the contest was Sabrina Guerin, who placed 18th. Mengtao Xu and Yu Yang of China were first and third while Australians Lydia Lassila and Laura Peel were second and fourth.