Canadian freestylers rule at NorAm championships 

Canada has always been a heavyweight contender in the freestyle arena, and judging by the performance of national development team and provincial team skiers at the NorAm championships at Fortress Mountain, Alberta, earlier this month, we always will be. Canadians women made at least one podium in every event, and the Canadian men swept the aerials.

Rachel Bellieveau of Ste-Foy, Quebec, who was in her first year with the World Cup team this season, earned a silver medal for her efforts in the individual moguls on March 1.

"It’s my best run of the season, that’s for sure," she said. "I just got it done. I had two good jumps and no big mistakes."

The 20-year-old finished a fraction back of American Michelle Roark.

Roark was the dual moguls world champion in 1999 and a standout on the U.S. team until she blew her right knee so badly that doctors were skeptical whether she would ever ski again. After six operations, three on each knee, she is attempting to make a comeback.

The bronze medal went to Jessica Davis, another American. Elisa Kurlyowicz of Manotick, Ontario, was fourth, Marilene Tetrault of St-Eustache, Quebec, was sixth, Sylvia Kerfoot of Vancouver was eighth and Courtney Bowlen of Edmonton finished ninth.

The men’s mogul event was a U.S. sweep by Brady Johnson, Tonile Basile and Mike Friedberg. Warren Tanner of Grimsby, Ontarios, missed the bronze by 0.4 points. Garrett Simm of Prince George was ninth and Etienne Lecours of Ste-Justine, Quebec finished 12 th .

On the following day, Warren Shouldice of Calgary earned his second gold medal of the week to clinch the overall NorAm aerials championship.

"It was the best week of my life so far," said Shouldice, 18. He led a 1-2-3-4 Canadian sweep.

Cord Spero of Grande Prairie, Alberta, was second, Daniel Murphy of Laval, Quebec, was third, and Ryan Blais, also of Grande Prairie, finished fourth.

Amber Peterson of Thunder Bay, Ontario earned a silver medal in the women’s aerials competition, wedged between Kate Reed and Jana Lindsey of the U.S. Toronto’s Karen MacDonald placed fourth, followed by Pascale Gadbois of Coeau-du-lac, Quebec.

In Sunday’s dual moguls, Stephanie St.-Pierre of Victoriaville, Quebec, won Canada’s only medal of the day. She took the bronze, but it was under protest.

A gust of wind blew snow across the course and into her face during her first jump in the semi-final run against American Roark, which blinded her temporarily.

"I couldn’t see anything," she said. "I had no control and I fell, but I continued to the finish line."

The 16-year-old and her coach pleaded their cases to the judges, but they wouldn’t allow her a re-run.

"Normally I’m not as good in duals but I had it in my head to go for a medal."

She went on to defeat American Katherine Lynch in the small final to earn the bronze medal.

Roark was first, edging out teammate Shelly Robertson in the final.

Rachel Belliveau of Quebec was fifth, Sabra Timmins of Jasper, Alberta was sixth, Karine Simar of Quebec City was seventh, Courtney Bowlen of Edmonton was eighth.

It was an all-American podium in the men’s dual moguls, with Tony Basile, Luke Westeerlund and David Babic finishing first, second and third.

Justin Won of Prince George was the top Canadian in eighth.

The NorAm season may have wrapped up last weekend, but the competitive season isn’t over yet. The World Cup team has an event in Japan this weekend, then the finals in Himos, Finland on March 17.

The Junior National Championships take place at Apex Mountain, Penticton, from March 15 to 17. The Canadian National Championships take place at Marble Mountain, Newfoundland, from March 22 to 24.

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