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Rochon on podium in moguls opener

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Strong winds may have grounded the air force, but once they had their clearance from ground control, it was business as usual. Stephane Rochon of St-Sauveur, Quebec, showed why he is still one of the top mogul skiers in the world with a silver medal performance at the Suzuki Freestyle FIS World Cup in Tignes, France, on Dec. 1.

Johann Gregoire of France took the gold medal with his aggressive skiing. He called this win about two months ago in his usual laid-back style.

"I have won the French Cup, the European Cup, I am World Champion (1999), and now I will win the Olympic Games."

His judged score of 26.24 beat Rochon by 0.6 of a point.

Jeremy Bloom of the U.S. took the bronze medal, coming in a tenth of a point behind Rochon.

Jean-Luc Brassard of Grande-Ile, Quebec, sidelined for most of last year after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, finished fifth. Jim Schiman of Cranbrook, B.C., only in his second year with the national team, was seventh. Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau of Drummondville, Quebec, one of the top Canadian mogul skiers, rounded out the men’s team’s efforts by finishing 10th out of 60 starters.

The Canadian women weren’t as fortunate, but still managed to put three athletes in the top 20.

Kelly Ringstad, who divides her time between North Vancouver and Whistler, was 12 th overall, which was good enough to put her on track to the 2002 Winter Olympics. She only needs another top 12 result in the next four competitions to qualify for a third spot for Canada, along with Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alberta, and Tami Bradley of Vancouver/Whistler.

Heil finished 14 th at Tignes and Bradley was 18 th out of 38 starters.

The next World Cup stop for the moguls team is Steamboat Springs, Utah, for moguls and dual moguls competitions. The aerials team won’t jump until the Mont Tremblant World Cup on Jan. 12 and 13.

The Whistler event, which includes both aerials and dual moguls competitions, will take place from Jan. 25 to 27 – the last event on the World Cup schedule before the Olympics.

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