Moguls team hits milestone
Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau of Drummondville, Quebec, earned a bronze medal last week in World Cup moguls competition at Rukku, Finland. While the podium is not exactly unfamiliar territory for the 24-year-old, it was his first medal since he broke his neck last season, missing the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
"Its a great feeling to get on the podium again," said Rousseau, who is in his sixth year with the national team, and was ranked third in the world in 2000 and 2001. "I struggled the last two World Cups because I tried to have cleaner runs, but today I went back to being fast and having big jumps.
"Im not holding back anything this year. I want to ski all out, but I did go slower the last two weeks to please the judges and it hurt my placings. But I knew I had to get back to the formula that put me on the podium."
The neck injury happened in the French Alps less than four weeks before the Games. Doctors there fused two vertebras, and Rousseau spent several months recovering the basic use of his limbs he had to learn to walk again before he could get on skis.
Also at Rukka, Stephane Rochon of St-Sauveur was eighth, Scott Bellavance of Prince George and Whistler was 13 th , and Warren Tanner of Grimsby, Ontario, was 16 th .
Tapio Luusua of Finland and Travis Mayer of the U.S. took the gold and silver medals.
In the womens competition, Tami Bradley of Vancouver was eighth, Kristi Richards of Summland was 10 th , and Elisa Kurylowicz of Manotick, Ont. Was 11 th . Kari Traa and Ingrid Bernsten of Norway were first and second, and Shannon Bahrke of the U.S. was third.
The Canadian mogul skiers have been on a roll recently.
Rochon was fourth in the World Cup moguls at Madonna Di Campiglio, Italy Saturday, Dec. 14.
Rochon is also no stranger to the finals but it was the first time he had cracked the top-12 in three events this season. Two other rookies, Warren Tanner and Stephanie St. Pierre of Quebec also managed to crack the top-12 for the first time in their careers.
While the Canadians didnt earn any medals in Italy, the results represented a different kind of milestone for the Canadian team. This is the first time that every one of the members of the freestyle moguls team, male and female, has qualified for the finals in the same season. And the season is just getting started.
"Thats really cool," said the 28-year-old Rochon, remarking on the depth of the team. "All the young guns coming on the team are making the finals. Thats good for our sport in Canada."
Tanner was 10th in the qualification round, and placed ninth in the finals.
In the womens competition, St. Pierre was also ninth.
Toby Dawson of the U.S. was first, followed by Mikko Ronkainen of Finland and Travis Mayer of the U.S. Rochons score was just 0.04 points back of Mayer.
For Tanner, who is 22, making the finals was the victory on Saturday.
"Its a step up for sure," he said. "This is my first final, first of many, and kind of a message that here I am and I belong."
Scott Bellavance, who is coming off of back-to-back silver medals, finished 22 nd . Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau was 16 th and rookie Chris Wong of Prince George was 20 th .
St. Pierre, who is only 17, was also excited with her finish.
"Im so happy, it was the greatest day of my life," she said. "I didnt ski as well as I could, especially with my jumps, but Im really happy with my first final. It means a lot for me."
The other Canadians were Elisa Kurylowicz of Manotick, Ontario in 13 th , and Tami Bradley in 16 th .
The day went to Shannon Bahrke of the U.S., followed by Ingrid Bernsten of Norway and Kari Traa of Norway.
The moguls season continued this week with competitions in Finland on Thursday and Friday.