Freestylers soar in Utah 

Three medals and one aerials first for Canadians

The World Cup freestyle season continued last weekend with three events at Deer Valley, Utah. The Canadians were solid once again, earning three medals in moguls and aerials competition, but the U.S. Team was the big story with its third podium sweep of the season in men’s moguls, and strong performances everywhere else.

The competition got underway with the single moguls competition on Thursday. Canada’s best hope, defending World Cup champion Jennifer Heil of Alberta, earned the best turn marks of her career, but lost marks for poor top air.

"I just rushed it a little and the cross (crossed skis) wasn’t as big as I would have liked," she said. She settled for fourth place, 0.15 points back of a medal.

Michelle Roark of the U.S. took the gold, followed by Margarita Marbler of Austria. Hannah Kearney added the U.S. team’s second medal of the day with the bronze.

Also for Canada, Stephanie St. Pierre of Victoriaville, Quebec was seventh, Elisa Kurylowicz of Manotick, Ontario was ninth and Jennifer Simm of Prince George was 16 th .

In the men’s competition, where the U.S. has dominated all season, the top three skiers were Jeremy Bloom, Nathan Roberts and Toby Dawson.

Whistler’s Dale Begg-Smith, who grew up in Canada and is competing for Australia, was fourth – less than a point back of a bronze medal.

Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau of Drummondville, Quebec was the top Canadian in 12 th .

The aerials team made up for the slow start with a strong performance on Friday.

Veronika Bauer of Toronto earned a silver medal, her second medal in as many weeks, with her triple twisting double somersault – no small feat considering the level of talent on the women’s circuit these days.

"I’m just not one to get over that type of thing easily," said Bauer, who has previously stayed away from the big jump after crashing in training over the summer.

"Now I have the DD (degree of difficulty) to win and it feels so good. I feel competitive again."

Bauer now sits fourth in the women’s standings, in an event which is dominated by Chinese and Australian former gymnasts.

Nina Li of China won her third gold medal of the season to tie for first in the rankings with Australia’s Lydia Ierodiaconou, who picked up the bronze medal.

Amber Peterson of Thunder Bay, Ontario was seventh.

In the men’s competition, both gold and silver went to American jumpers, with Ryan St. Onge earning his first career win and Joe Pack finishing close behind. Steve Omischl, the defending champion from North Bay, Ontario, was third, edging out teammate Warren Shouldice of Calgary.

Shouldice may have finished off the podium, but that may be a temporary issue for the young jumper, who landed the first Lay-triple-full-full ever performed in a World Cup competition. That’s a quadruple twisting, triple backflip with three twists in the second flip.

In the dual moguls on Saturday, the last day of competition, Jennifer Heil earned her first-ever gold medal in this event with a series of strong performances over her competition. She didn’t have an easy time of it – on her way to the podium she defeated Kari Traa of Norway, Margarita Marbler of Austria, Tae Satoya of Japan, and Hannah Kearney of the U.S. Kearney ended up with the silver, while Nikola Sudova of the Czech Republic claimed the bronze.

The win helped Heil extend her lead in moguls to 466 points, well ahead of her closest competitor.

Other Canadians struggled, with Elisa Kurylowicz in ninth, Kristi Richards of Summerland 13 th , Stephanie St. Pierre 15 th , and Whistler’s Sylvia Kerfoot 19 th .

The U.S. team continued its domination of the men’s competition, qualifying seven skiers for the men’s round of 16. Jeremy Bloom took the gold medal once again, beating Whistler’s Begg-Smith in the final round. A silver medal is Begg-Smith’s best performance to date.

Third place went to Janne Lahtela of Finland, edging out Rusian Sharifulin of Russia.

Canada’s top dual moguls prospects, P.A. Rousseau and Marc-André Moreau of Chambly, Quebec, were sidelined with minor injuries. Garrett Simm of Prince George was the top Canadian in 20 th .

The freestyle season continues with events in Japan and China this weekend.

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