Aerialists hold own in Oz 

One medal, top 10’s in World Cup opener

It was a subdued debut for the Canadian Freestyle Aerials Team at Mt. Buller, Australia last weekend in the World Cup opener, but nothing to be worried about.

Over two back-to-back competitions, the Canadians placed nine jumpers in the top-10, with Diedra Dionne of Red Deer, Alberta earning a silver medal on the second day of competitions. It wasn’t as strong of a start as last season, with the team winning two gold medals and silver, but once again it showed the depth of the national team.

On the first day of competition, Martin Walti of Switzerland won his first World Cup, followed by Xiaopeng Han of China and Alex Valenta of the Czech Republic. The best Canadian result, seventh place, was posted by Calgary’s Warren Shouldice. Steve Omischl of North Bay, Ontario was eighth and Kyle Nissen of Calgary in ninth.

Ottawa’s Jeff Bean watched the action from the sidelines, where he will be for the next six to eight weeks with a hairline fracture in his vertebrae after a crash in training.

Meanwhile, on the women’s side, Lydia Ierodiaconou of Australia became the first woman to break the 200 point make in an aerials event with a score of 201.81. Fellow Australian Jacqui Cooper was a distant second with a score of 171.10, followed by Anna Zuka of Russia. Veronika Bauer was the top Canadian in eighth.

Day two was a lot better for the Canadians, with Deidra Dionne landing a perfect triple-twisting, double somersault on her second jump to move into the silver medal spot.

"I’d been jumping awesomely in training all week," said Dionne. "But on (the first day) I tried controlling things too much instead of just going for it. I decided to go out and not have any regrets."

Ierodiaconou was even better on day two, posting a world record score of 205.71. Nina Li of China a third.

Veronika Bauer made the top-10 once again, this time finishing 10 th .

In the men’s competition, Ales Valenta moved up in the rankings to claim gold, followed by Jeret Peterson of the U.S. and Dmitri Dashinski of Belarus.

Kyle Nissen came within five one-hundredths of a point of the bronze medal, finishing in fourth overall. Steve Omischl, the reigning world champion, was ninth and Warren Shouldice 10 th .

The next event on the calendar for the freestyle athletes is the FIS World Cup at Saas-Fee, Switzerland from Oct. 26-27, with halfpipe and skier-cross events. Both events were added to the World Cup schedule last season


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