Mogul skiers sweep at home 

The Canadian Freestyle Ski Team had a near perfect weekend at home at Ski Mont Gabriel in Quebec, with four medals in moguls, including a podium sweep for the men, and a gold medal in men's aerials.

On Saturday, the men's mogul team made history with a clean sweep of the podium - all French-Canadian skiers putting down their best runs while family and friends watched on the sidelines. The skiers also got a boost from the weather, with temperatures of minus 30 with the wind chill - cold for most, but nothing unusual for any skier raised in Quebec.

Vincent Marquis took the gold medal, Alex Bilodeau the silver and Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau the bronze.

"I don't feel the weather anymore," said Marquis. "I did the run I was dreaming of doing this week.

"We've been talking about this (podium sweep) the last couple of years, about the ability to do this. And now that we've done it, we feel we can do it again."

With results from past events, Rousseau now shares the yellow leader bib with Bilodeau.

Whistler's Dale Begg-Smith, the reigning world and Olympic champion while skiing for Australia, had to settle for fifth place. Two other Canadians, Philippe Marquis and Warren Tanner also rounded out the top-10 in ninth and 10th respectively.

While the women's team is capable of making a podium sweep of its own with five athletes winning medals in the past two seasons, Jennifer Heil made the only podium appearance, in second place, just two hundredths of a point behind Aiko Uemura of Japan and ahead of Hannah Kearney of the U.S. Teammates Maxime Dufour-Lapointe and Stephanie St. Pierre were eighth and ninth. Seven Canadian women qualified in the top-16.

"I'm not there yet, but I can really feel my strength and fluidity, and the control," said Heil, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. "I feel the potential is there."

With her second silver medal in as many weeks, Heil now share's the leader bib with Kearney.

In aerials, reigning world champion Steve Omischl earned his first podium on the season by winning the 19th World Cup gold medal of his career.

It was a tight contest, with eight skiers scoring 120 points or more in the qualification round and everyone landing their most difficult jumps.

Omischl landed two variations of a quadruple-twisting triple flip in the finals, and was ecstatic with his first attempt.

"I can't jump any better," he said. "That was 100 per cent of what I'm capable of."

A gold put Omischl back on top of the overall World Cup standings, and closer to defending his title.

Timofei Slivets of Belarus was second, followed by Thomas Lambert of Switzerland.

Calgary's Kyle Nissen just missed the podium, finishing in fourth place, 0.04 points back of Lambert. Olivier Rochon of the development team placed fifth, Ryan Blais was eighth, Cord Spero ninth and Warren Shouldice 12th. Shouldice made the finals but did not finish both jumps after crashing and being taken to the hospital with a concussion.

Lydia Lassila of Australia won gold on the women's side, followed by Shuang Cheng and Shanshan Zhao of China. Nina Li of China was fourth.

The top Canadian was Sabrina Guerin of the development team, who placed seventh in only her fourth World Cup start. Amber Peterson was 12th.

Veronika Bauer did not compete after suffering a concussion the week before in Lake Placid. Deidra Dionne and Crystal Lee were sidelined with minor injuries from training.

Batchelor wins Canada's third medal at worlds

Although some of the world's best halfpipe competitors skipped the world championships in Gangwon, South Korea last week the Canadian halfpipe team made it their priority to compete for spots in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

The halfpipe athletes wrapped up the event, which saw Canadians Jasey-Jay Anderson and Mathew Morrison placed first and second in the parallel giant slalom, and Whistler's Maëlle Ricker and Tom Velisek place fourth in snowboardcross.

Jeff Batchelor earned Canada's third medal, placing second behind Ryoh Aono of Japan and ahead Mathieu Crepel of France.

It was Canada's third consecutive halfpipe medal in the worlds, with Justin Lamoureux winning silver in 2005 and Brad Martin bronze in 2007.

Batchelor's medal meant the Canadian Snowboard Federation achieved its goal of three medals in Korea.

Batchelor did it with a run that featured a frontside 900 spin, a backside 900, a frontside 540, the mandatory straight air, and a backside 1080.

"It's been quite a long journey," he said. "I never thought I would make it this far. Yesterday in qualifiers I wasn't feeling too good, falling and having flat landings."

It was the third podium of Batchelor's career, including a win in 2007 in the same pipe.

"It's not really a contesting run when you get all technical, but I just managed to throw it huge and loft and stuck my landings," said Batchelor.

Lamoureux, who lives in Squamish, also had a good day to place fifth.

"I just snuck into the semifinals after yesterday's qualifications. Today I created a brand new show as I was riding in the semifinal and it got me in the afternoon finals. I tried it again for the finals and nailed it during my second run."

On the women's side, Jiayu Lui took the gold medal, followed by Holly Crawford of Australia and Paulina Ligocka of Poland. None of the Canadian women qualified for the finals. Sarah Conrad of Squamish was 12th, Charmaine Ironside 13th, Dominique Vallée 16th and Mercedes Nicoll 20th.

With three medals and otherwise strong results, Canada placed third in the medals ranking behind Austria (six medals) and Switzerland (four medals).

The next stop for the Canadians is a home competition at Cypress Mountain, a World Cup test event Feb. 13-15.

Albrecht injury overshadows World Cup weekend

The alpine skiing world was stunned last week by the horrific crash of Switzerland's Daniel Albrecht, who fell on the final jump on the Kitzbeuhel downhill course during a training run. According to reports, he hit the jump at 138.1 km/h and flew roughly 50 metres through the air before landing on his back. He shattered his skis in the impact, and tumbled to the finish line. He lost consciousness, and was taken to the hospital where doctors induced a coma while they assessed injuries to his brain and lungs. He is believed to be capable of making a full recovery, with no complications resulting from his concussion or swelling of the brain. His worst symptom is bleeding in the lungs.

Under that shadow, several men's races were held as planned in Austria, while the women took to the slopes at Cortina, Italy.

For the fourth consecutive week, Canadians failed to reach the podium although they continued to earn points with consistent performances in the top-30.

In the super G at Kitzbuehel the top Canadian was John Kucera in 19th place, with Whistler's Robbie Dixon 23rd. Klaus Kroell of Austria took the win, followed by Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway and Ambrosi Hoffman of Switzerland.

In the downhill, Erik Guay was 15th for Canada, with John Kucera 21st and Manuel Osborne-Paradis 26th. The win went to Didier Defago of Switzerland, followed by Michael Walchhofer and Klaus Kroell of Austria.

In the slalom, rookie Trevor White and Whistler's Michael Janyk cracked the top-10 in eighth and 10th places respectively, the only Canadians to complete two runs of the course. Julien Lizeroux and Jean-Baptiste Grange of France were first and second, followed by Patrick Thaler of Italy.

In the combined race, John Kucera placed sixth, out of a smaller field of athletes. Silvan Zurbriggen of Switzerland was first, followed by Ivica Kostelic and Natko Zrncic-Dim of Croatia.

On the women's side, snow in Cortina forced organizers to cancel one of two downhill races, a make-up event for a downhill at Lake Louise that was also cancelled because of snow.

In the downhill that did take place Kelly VanderBeek was the top Canadian in ninth place, with Britt Janyk 20th. The win went to Dominique Gisin of Switzerland, followed by Lindsey Vonn of the U.S. and Anja Paerson of Sweden.

Although the Canadian team didn't expect much in the giant slalom, rookie Marie-Michele Gagnon managed to place ninth. Genevieve Simard was 16th.

The Austrian team swept the podium with Kathrin Zettel first, Michaela Kirchgasser second and Elisabeth Goergl third.

In the final super G, Whistler's Britt Janyk was the top Canadian racer in 12th place, while Kelly VanderBeek was 20th. Jessica Lindell-Vikarby of Sweden took the win, followed by Anna Fenninger of Austria and Andrea Dettling of Switzerland.

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