Freestyle team picks up five medals in China 

Richards back on podium, Kingsbury golden


The FIS World Cup Freestyle tour made an historic foray into China this week for the first events ever held in that country.

While the Chinese aerials team has dominated the World Cup in recent years, this was the team's first chance to show off at home. And show off they did, winning seven of the 12 available medals in back-to-back men's and women's aerials competitions.

However, Canada showed that it's still the top nation in moguls with four out of six medals.

In the opening men's aerials event, Canada's Warren Shouldice - the only returning veteran - jumped to a silver medal, between Zongyang Jia and Chao Wu of China.

Shouldice said he was training well but wasn't entirely happy with his competition jumps.

"I survived and because I survived I got on the podium," said Shouldice, who ranked 11th after nearly crashing on his first jump in the finals. He also had a tough landing on his second jump, but kept his spot in the rankings as other jumpers crashed.

Canada's lone jumper on the women's side, veteran Veronika Bauer, was sitting third after her first jump but twisted her knee on the second jump of the day. She missed the second day of competition, and it's unknown when she might return.

"It's really unfortunate," said Bauer, "because after some difficult training everything finally clicked for me today and I was feeling really good after the first jump. Then on the second jump I snowplowed trying to save my landing, hit some ruts and just fell and hurt my knee." Bauer still finished sixth on the day.

The Chinese women swept the podium, with Xin Zhang first, Mengtao Xu second and Shuang Cheng third.

Shouldice had another strong day on Sunday, but placed fourth. The podium went to Guangpu Qi and Zongyang Jia of China, with Renato Ulrich of Switzerland third.

Conditions got worse before Shouldice's second jump, but in the end he says his own mistake cost him a place on the podium.

"With only three guys left to go the snow started and the wind direction changed. I could tell I was about one to one-and-a-half kilometres per hour slow coming in to my takeoff, so I had to break form in the air because I didn't have enough height," said Shouldice. "But that wasn't my big mistake, my mistake was that I missed my landing a bit by taking a deep squat. I'm glad I didn't crash but that squat cost me a spot on the podium today."

Shouldice is the Canadian men's team this year, following the retirement of Steve Omischl, Kyle Nissen and Ryan Blais. However, a strong crew of jumpers is working its way up the ranks through the NorAm Cup and will get some starts with the national team when the World Cup tour comes to North America.


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