Canadians conquer Asian freestyle events 

Team continues to collect medals as Heil, Omischl lead overall standings

The Canadian Freestyle Ski Team is sitting pretty after recent moguls events in Inawashiro, Japan and aerials events at Harbin, China, with two skiers holding onto their yellow leader jerseys.

In the North American events earlier this season, the Canadian team won 15 medals over three consecutive weeks and another medal the following week to take the lead in the overall nations cup. They added another five medals this past weekend, including a gold medal in the aerials.

Things got underway for the team on Saturday with a moguls competition. In the men’s event, Jim Schiman of Cranbrook, B.C. earned the silver medal, this second of the season. He says it was the best result of his career, even better than the gold medal he won at the World Cup in Fernie three weeks earlier.

"I feel better after this medal than Fernie," he said. "(Fernie) was in duals and a little bit of winning a medal in duals is luck.

"But in single (moguls) this is the best contest run I’ve ever put down."

Schiman was the only Canadian to qualify for the finals, by finishing in the top 12. Once again Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau came close, finishing 13 th .

The gold and bronze went to Toby Dawson and Jeremy Bloom of the U.S. respectively.

In the women’s final, Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alberta extended her lead in the women’s overall standings with a silver medal performance. Margarita Marbler of Austria took gold and Jillian Vogtli of the U.S. finished with the bronze.

"This is where I won my first gold medal, just after the 2002 Olympics," said the 20-year-old Heil. "I have always enjoyed the steeper courses."

Heil went bigger than the others with her jumps, which included a 360 iron cross. Most of the other competitors were playing it more conservatively.

Jennifer Simm of Prince George also qualified for the finals, finishing 12 th .

Just missing the cut was Whistler’s Sylvia Kerfoot. Kelly Ringstad of Whistler was 21 st and Stephanie St-Pierre of Victoriaville, Quebec was 26 th .

Heil was back on the podium the following day in another moguls competition winning silver, once again behind Marbler. It was her seventh medal in 10 World Cup events this season.

"I don’t think I’ve ever skied on snow that slick, so I wasn’t prepared," said Heil. "That’s probably why I didn’t win, but I’m very happy because it’s the (worst) conditions I’ve ever skied in."

St-Pierre finished seventh and Kerfoot was 12 th . Simm finished back in 17 th place.

There were no podiums in the men’s event, but Rousseau came the closest with a fifth place finish. Schiman was seventh, and moved up to eighth in the overall standings.

Travis Cabral and Toby Dawson of the U.S. were first and second, followed by Mikko Ronkainen of Finland. Janne Lahtela of Finland held on to his lead in the overall standings, although Dawson is gaining.

Warren Tanner of Grimsby, Ontario was 18 th and Marc-Andre Moreau of Chambly, Quebec was 40 th after crashing.

The moguls team will compete in Japan again this weekend before heading to Europe for the end of the season.

The Canadian aerials team is continuing to jump well, with a couple medals of their own in Harbin, China.

After an uncharacteristically slow start to the season, Toronto’s Veronika Bauer has netted her second medal in the last three weeks with a bronze medal performance.

The gold went to World Cup leader Alisa Camplin of Australia, followed by Evelyne Leu of Switzerland.

Rookiee Amber Peterson of Thunder Bay, Ontario made it to the finals for the second time this season with an 11 th place finish.

In the men’s competition, only Calgary’s Kyle Nissen managed to crack the finals, finishing 11 th . Ottawa’s Jeff bean was 13 th , Warren Shouldice of Calgary 18 th , and Steve Omischl of North Bay, Ontario – the current World Cup leader – was a disappointing 19 th .

Gold went to Alexei Grichin of Belarus, followed by teammate Dmitri Dashinski and Sen Qiu of China.

Omischl, 25, redeemed himself and the leader’s bib on Sunday with a gold medal performance, his fifth win of the season.

"That’s the best jump I’ve ever done," said Omischl of his quadruple-twisting somersault which was worth 246.71 points. "It was about three points from a perfect score (of 250)."

Redemption was in the air it seems as Nissen moved up to fourth and Shouldice landed in fifth.

In the women’s final, Deidra Dionne of Red Deer, Alberta was sixth and Bauer was eighth.

Lydia Ierodiaconou and Alisa Camplin of Australia were first and third, while Russia’s Anna Zukal claimed the silver.

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