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Kerfoot in the medals at Nor Am

Bilodeau carrying momentum into Olympics

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The freestyle skiing World Cup season is officially on hiatus until after the Olympics, but the Canadian team managed to squeeze in one last contest over the weekend, at Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Replublic.

In the moguls, 18-year-old rookie Alex Bilodeau of Rosemere, Quebec earned his second gold medal of the season and now sits second in the overall moguls rankings. While other athletes opted to skip the last event before the Games to ward of injuries, Bilodeau saw a chance to catch up to Whistler’s Dale Begg-Smith, who is competing for Australia, on the points list. Begg-Smith wasn’t willing to give up those points either, and earned a silver medal to tighten his grip on the yellow leader’s bib. Nathan Roberts of the U.S. was third.

"My plan at the beginning of the season was to be training in Tignes (with the rest of the Canadian team), but obviously everything has gone better than I thought," said Bilodeau. "I’m feeling really confident and I did my two big jumps I want to do at the Olympics."

In the overall standings, Begg-Smith has 585 points and six medals, while Bilodeau is second with 436 points and three medals.

In the women’s moguls, Kari Traa of Norway took the gold, followed by Sandra Laoura of France and Michelle Roark of the U.S. None of the other Canadian mogul skiers took part.

In the aerials, Ryan Blais of Grande Prairie, Alberta was the only Canadian to make the finals, finishing eighth. Gold went to Dmitri Dashinski of Belarus, followed by Han Xiaopeng of China and Dmitri Rak of Belarus.

Nina Li of China won the women’s event, followed by All Tsuper of Belarus and Manueal Mueller of Switzerland taking the bronze.

Canadian skiers also competed in a Nor Am contest at Sainte-Anne-De Beaupre, Quebec this past weekend, taking most of the medals ahead of talented American skiers.

Whistler’s Sylvia Kerfoot, who narrowly missed a spot on the Olympic team because of the strength of the women’s team, brought home two medals. On the first day she won a bronze behind Heather McPhie of the U.S. and Jackie Brown of Ontario. The following day she won a silver medal behind Kayla Snyderman of the U.S.

"There is a lot of depth in the field," said Kerfoot, who will rejoin the national team after the Olympic break. "The kids on the NorAm circuit are doing a lot of the same tricks we’re doing in the World Cups."

Kerfoot got off to a rough start this season with a head and back injury, but has improved recently. She qualified for the finals at the Lake Place World Cup, finishing 10 th .

"I was really happy with that night. My skiing finally started to come together, better speed and turns. I did a back layout (straight back flip) for the first time this season and it scored well, too," she said.

"I am disappointed with not making the Olympic team, but we are sending a super strong team and I’ll be there to cheer them on."

The Olympic team is comprised of 14 members. The women’s mogul team includes Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alberta; Stephanie St-Pierre of Victoriaville, Quebec; Kristi Richards of Summerland, B.C.; and Audrey Robichaud of Val Belair, Quebec. The men’s moguls team includes Marc-Andre Moreau of Chambly, Quebec; Alex Bilodeau; and Chris Wong of Prince George.

The women’s aerials team includes Veronika Bauer of North York, Ontario; Deidra Dionne of Spruce Grove, Alberta; and Amber Peterson of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The men’s aerials team is Steve Omischl of North Bay, Ontario; Kyle Nissen and Warren Shouldice of Calgary, Alberta; and Jeff Bean of Ottawa, Ontario.

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