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Rochon, Bradley climb freestyle podium

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Olympic team harder to pick

Canadian mogul legend Stephane Rochon has hit the ground running this season, making the podium in all three events he has entered, and winning gold, silver and bronze medals.

He won his latest medals, a gold in the moguls and a bronze in the dual moguls, at a World Cup competition at Steamboat, Colorado, last weekend.

On Dec. 14, Rochon started the day out of medal contention and a win didn’t seem likely as Travis Mayer of the U.S. posted a score of 27.13 on his first run.

"But at the same time, I was focusing on what I needed to do and told myself it was beatable," says Rochon, who was "really, really aggressive" in his second run. His score of 27.43 put him on top of the leaderboard, and while other competitors gave it a shot, nobody could dislodge the 27 year old from Saint-Sauveur, Quebec, from the top spot.

Traditionally a slow starter, even Rochon – who’s recognized as one of the top mogul skiers in the world – was amazed at how well he did.

"It feels good because it’s my first win in a singles event since Sweden in 1996," he says. Two weeks ago at the season opener in Tignes, France, he came close, finishing second overall.

Mayer, the 2000 world duals champion, went on to take the silver medal, followed by Jeremy Bloom, another member of the U.S. team.

Three other Canadians cracked the top 12, which made it more difficult to decide who would go to the Olympics.

Scott Bellavance of Prince George was fifth, after finishing 16 th in Tignes. He now leads the battle for the fourth spot on the Olympic roster, behind Rochon, Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau and Jean-Luc Brassard. His lead is slim, however, as both Jim Schiman of Cranbrook B.C. and Ryan Johnson of Calgary have an opportunity to overtake him in the next two contests.

Brassard, rebounding from a knee injury that sidelined the 1994 Olympic champion for most of last year, was fifth in the season opener but 12 th at Steamboat.

In the women’s mogul competition, none of the competitors earned a spot in the final 12. Rachel Belliveau of Quebec was 14 th , Whistler’s Tami Bradley was 17 th , Alberta’s Jennifer Heil 18 th , Whistler’s Kelly Ringstad 20 th , and Jennifer Simm of Prince George was 21 st .

On Dec. 15, Rochon was at it again, this time joined on the podium by Tami Bradley. Both competitors earned bronze medals in the dual moguls competition.

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