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Omischl leads Canadians in Italy

Strong internal competition as freestyle world championships near



In the end it will come down to results, but it still won’t be easy for the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association to pick four representatives, male and female, to compete in the moguls and aerials competitions at next month’s FIS Freestyle World Championships.

Although there are some definite shoe-in candidates, like Jennifer Heil who won her second consecutive moguls title last week, the depth of the team will make the selection difficult.

The most recent World Cup at Sauze d’Oulx, Italy last weekend made the picture a little clearer, but the final lineup is far from decided.

In the women’s moguls, Stephanie St-Pierre of Victoriaville, Quebec, won the silver medal behind Kari Traa of Norway. Third went to Nikola Sudova of the Czech Republic.

"I decided to go way bigger (on my jumps) and way more aggressive," said St-Pierre, who turned 20 last week. "This week I decided I was kind of disappointed with the way I was skiing and knew that I can do better."

Heil won the qualifying round, but finished 11 th after some trouble near the bottom of the course. Elisa Kurylowicz of Manotick, Ontario was fifth overall, while Whistler’s Sylvia Kerfoot was 10 th .

For Kerfoot, the result clinched her a spot with the Canadian team in the world championships, which in turn could clinch her a spot in the Olympics.

The final World Cup moguls contest of the season is this weekend in Norway. The world championships take place in Ruka, Finland March 15-20.

In the men’s moguls competition, Jeremy Bloom of the U.S. continued to dominate the sport with his sixth consecutive win. He was joined on the podium by his teammate Travis Mayer and Mikko Ronkainen of Norway.

The top Canadian was Marc-Andre Moreau of Chambly, Quebec in sixth place, followed by Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau of Drummondville, Quebec in seventh.

In the aerials competition defending champion Steve Omischl of North Bay, Ontario took his first gold medal of the year with a career-best score for a pair of quadruple-twisting triple somersaults.

"I can’t even explain how happy I am," said Omischl, who had two silver medals to his credit in recent weeks after a slow start to the year.

"It was anyone’s game, but my second jump was by far the best of my life. It’s incredible to put it down on the Olympic site with the best jump I’ve ever performed."

Calgary’s Kyle Nissen claimed the silver medal with the best score of his career, just six weeks after surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Stanislav Kravchuk of the Ukraine took the bronze medal.

Cord Spero of Grande Prairie Alberta was the third Canadian to make the finals, finishing ninth.

There was a shakeup of the podium in the women’s event with Evelyne Leu of Switzerland taking her first win of the year, while Nina Li of China settled for the silver medal for the first time in the last four weeks. Xinxin Guo of China was third.

The top Canadian in the contest was Melissa Prefontaine of Grande Prairie, Alberta.