On a team where rookies are stepping up every week and winning medals, it was a veteran of nine seasons that led the way this past weekend at Marienbad, Czech Republic. Whistler’s Sylvia Kerfoot won a silver medal in the dual moguls competition, the second medal of her career, after making it into the final race against Aiko Uemura of Japan.
En route to the silver medal, Kerfoot edged out Canadians Nathalie Bazin in the first round and Maxime Dufour Lapointe in the second round, and American Emiko Torito in the semi-finals.
“It’s pretty exciting to be on the podium, it’s been a long time,” said Kerfoot. “I was 12 th in qualifying so I knew I really had to step it up for the duals. I tried to have fun in each dual and I kept pushing harder and harder. I hope I can carry this through the next three events this season.”
Kerfoot has always been good enough, and in recent years has been a steady fixture in the women’s finals. She placed 12 th overall last season in moguls. However, every time she looked ready to return to the podium after watching her results improve each week, an injury would knock her back a few pegs.
Starting over meant qualifying for the competitive Canadian team again and again, while raising money working as a waiter in Whistler to cover her competition costs.
Even this season has not been injury-free, as Kerfoot had a bad crash in February while training in Japan. She still managed to compete in that event, placing eighth, then took off a week to recover.
Maxime Dufour-Lapointe of Monreal placed sixth, Summerland’s Kristi Richards was seventh, Jackie Brown 10 th , Nathalie Bazin 11 th and Audrey Robichaud of Quebec City 12th to give the team six athletes in the finals.
Kerfoot wasn’t the only Canadian to earn a medal on the day, as Alexandre Bilodeau defeated Andrey Volkov of Russia to win the bronze medal. Guilbaut Colbas of France won the gold over Nathan Roberts of the U.S.
“I had one of my best runs every in my dual against Volkov,” said Bilodeau. “I was frustrated about losing my previous dual so I was on fire for that race. I went big at the top (jump), big at the bottom and my middle section was perfect.”
Other men in the finals include Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau in fifth, and Renaud Jacques-Dagenais in 10 th .
A skicross event also planned for the same venue was cancelled.
In the aerials contest, Steve Omischl of Kelowna clinched the overall World Cup globe with another win at an event in Moscow. It was his fifth win and seventh podium of the season.
“I feel I really earned this one,” said Omischl. “Plus the conditions were great today which allowed everyone in the field to get off their hardest jumps. That put a lot of pressure on everyone and I was able to overcome that.”
For Omischl, the overall title was icing on the cake.
“I really believe it is the hardest thing to do in sport,” he said. “It’s even harder than winning at World Championships or the Olympics. You have to perform every single week.”
Stanislav Kravhuck of Ukraine placed second, while Nicolas Thepaut of France placed third. None of the other Canadians made the finals.
On the women’s side, Deidra Dionne of Alberta returned to the podium for the first time since she was sidelined with a broken back in training over two and a half years ago. She placed second to Elizabeth Gardner of Australia, and ahead of Xin Zhang of China.
“It’s another little step along the journey,” said Dionne. “I’m jumping better every week and I take a lot of confidence from that. Getting a medal at this point is faster than I would have hoped for, as I’m doing easier tricks this year.”
The Moscow event attracted a huge crowd of more than 35,000 people, one of the largest ever for a freestyle skiing competition. The result was a festive atmosphere, at least most of the time.
“The crowd wasn’t too happy with me because I bumped a Russian down to fourth place with my performance,” said Omischl.