Canadian aerialist steps it up for World Cup  

Nissen sits second in World Cup standings after silver medal and sixth place finish

Mount Buller, Australia kicked off the World Cup freestyle season last weekend, hosting two aerial events, Sept. 3-4.

The competition was the first of eight World Cup events where athletes can qualify for the 2006 Canadian Olympic team.

Aerialist Kyle Nissen of Calgary started the weekend off with a silver medal on Saturday. He finished sixth Sunday and sits just behind American Jeret Peterson in the World Cup standings. Peterson placed first on Saturday and eighth on Sunday.

"It’s great. I really couldn’t have expected more," said Nissen, 25. "I’m just going to go back out there and get my first yellow bib," he added, referring to the leader’s bib.

Jeff Bean of Ottawa was 12 th Saturday and seventh Sunday. Warren Shouldice of Calgary was fifth Saturday and 11 th Sunday. Close behind on Sunday was Cord Spero from Grand Prairie, Alberta in 14th place.

Sunday’s men’s aerials event was won by Ryan St. Onge of the United States. Teammate Eric Bergoust was second, followed by Alexi Grishin of Belarus.

Steve Omischl, of North Bay Ontario, didn’t compete at Mount Buller. Omischl opted to stay in Canada to train. He is the only Canadian male aerialist to secure a position on the 2006 Olympic team. There are three positions left.

On the women’s side, Canadian Veronika Bauer of Toronto was 19 th Saturday and sixth Sunday, while Melissa Prefontaine of Grand Prairie placed 20 th and 10 th .

The 2002 Olympic Bronze medallist Deidra Dionne, of Red Deer, Alberta, could not compete due to a neck injury sustained in training. She sustained a wedge fracture in her C4 vertebrae and a possible dislocation in her C5. Dionne was scheduled to undergo surgery Tuesday in Melbourne, Australia. A full recovery is expected, but it is not known when she will return to the snow.

The women’s events were won by Nina Li of China. Alla Tsuper of Belarus was third Saturday and second Sunday. Nannan Xu of China was second on Saturday while teammate Shuang Cheng was third Sunday.

The freestyle World Cup resumes in December with moguls events in Europe and aerials in China.

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