Freestyle season kicks off Down Under 

Canadian second, third and fourth after first aerials event

Canadian aerialists managed two medals and four top-four finishes on the first day of World Cup competition at Mount Buller in Australia, last weekend, but were shut out on day two as the weather worsened. Competitors had to face high winds, fog, overcast skies and generally poor visibility.

As a result, the men’s event on the first day was shortened to one jump from two and the second men’s event was cancelled outright. The women managed to get one jump in on both days.

On day one Kyle Nissen of Calgary, 22, surprised everyone with a silver medal performance behind Olympic champion Eric Bergoust of the U.S. Last year his best finish on the World Cup circuit was an 11th at Mount Buller. He also won a bronze medal in the national championships.

"I’m not really going to complain," said Nissen of the weather. He won his first World Cup in the wind at Heavenly Valley in the U.S. two years ago.

"It was almost similar conditions, but they seem to work out well (for the Canadians). I’ve jumped at Fortress Mountain a lot and because the wind tends to be bad there, when the wind comes (in competition) it doesn’t affect us as much as the other countries."

Vancouver’s Andy Capicik, 28, a two-time Olympian with 11 World Cup podiums to his credit, finished a close third.

"I’m pretty psyched," says Capicik, who likely secured an Olympic berth with his bronze medal performance.

Steve Omischl, 22, of North Bay, Ontario – Canada’s most successful male aerialist last year with three World Cup podiums and a gold medal at the national championships – was fourth at Mount Buller.

Other Canadians on the list include Ryan Blais of Grande-Prairie, Alberta, in 18 th and Jeff Bean of Ottawa 21 st .

Nicolas Fontaine, the overall world champion from 1997 to 2000, has already qualified for the Olympics and did not attend the Australian event to train at home. Veronica Brenner also chose to remain at home to recuperate from summer surgery.

The women were not quite as strong on the first day. Deidra Dionne of Red Deer, Alberta, 19, finished 11 th . Karen MacDonald of Toronto finished 20 th , and Veronika Bauer of Toronto – last year’s Canadian and world champion – finished in 24 th after a poor landing.

Jacqui Cooper of Australia won the women’s final, five points ahead of Nina Li of China and eight points ahead of Natalia OreKhova of Russia.

On day two the men watched from the sidelines as the women jumped. Dionne was once again the top aerialist, finishing 10 th to move up to eighth place in the overall standings.

Bauer was 11 th , MacDonald was 20 th , and Pascale Gadbois of Coteau-du-Lac, Quebec, was 21 st .

The moguls team will debut in early December at an event at Tignes, France.

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