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Whistler skier wins gold for Australia

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It was a seven-medal weekend for the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team, with the mogul skiers winning two in Oberstdorf, Germany while the aerialists were claiming five medals in Changchun, China. Including a silver medal the previous weekend, the Canadians are after their third Nations Cup title in as many years.

In Oberstdorf last weekend, reigning world champion Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alberta took the gold medal on a snowy course. More than a metre of snow fell on the course over the three days prior to the competition, and the athletes grabbed shovels and pitched in to make sure the event would take place as planned.

It was Heil’s second medal of the year, after she finished with a silver the previous week at Tignes, France.

"They were really tough conditions," said Heil. "The landings were so soft that everyone was crashing (in training). I was actually pretty nervous because everyone was having a tough time."

While Heil is always a favourite to win or place, Kristi Richards of Summerland, B.C. was a pleasant surprise for the team as she finished second to Heil. It was Richards’s first World Cup medal.

Two other Canadian women qualified for the finals by finishing in the top-16, down from seven the week before. Stephanie St-Pierre of Victoriaville, Quebec was sixth, while Audrey Robichaud of Val Belair, Quebec was 14 th .

In the men’s competition, Canadian born, Whistler-raised Dale Begg-Smith – won gold for Australia. Begg-Smith has obtained Australian citizenship in order to compete at the World Cup level. With a busy sideline in the computer software industry, he couldn’t make the commitment to ski for the Canadian team.

Begg-Smith was joined on the podium by a real Aussie, as Michael Robertson claimed third. Travis Mayer of the U.S. took the silver medal.

The top Canadian in the men’s contest was Jean-Francois Therrien of Laval, Quebec in eighth. Alexandre Bilodeau of Rosemere, Quebec also qualified for the final, finishing 11 th .

In the first day of aerials in China, Warren Shouldice of Calgary claimed his first World Cup gold medal, while his teammate Kyle Nissen of Calgary took the bronze. Silver went to Dmitri Dashinski of Belarus.

In the first women’s competition, Jiao Wan and Shanshan Zhao of China took first and second, and Evelyne Leu of Swtizerland was third.

The top Canadian was Veronika Bauer of Torono in 10 th place.

On day two Nissen won silver while Steve Omischl of North Bay, Ontario won bronze. The gold went to Dashinski.

With two medals, Nissen moved into first in the overall World Cup standings.

"I’m three for four with medals this year, so I’m really ecstatic," he said. "I was really looking to get that win, but it’s a kind of a building season."

In the women’s competition, Nannan Xu and Nina Li of China were first and second. Bauer, a former world champion, placed third.

Amber Peterson, the other Canadian to qualify for the finals in the top-12, finished her day in 10 th .

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