More medals for freestylers at Deer Valley 

One week after winning five medals in Quebec, the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team headed to Deer Valley, Utah for World Cup moguls, aerials and halfpipe events to add four more to the tally.

There were two moguls competitions. On Jan. 29, Alex Bilodeau picked up his second silver medal in as many weeks, finishing between Guibault Colas of France and Patrick Deneen of the U.S. Maxime Gingras also cracked the top-10 in eighth place.

The women's team was left off the podium for the first time this season, with Hannah Kearney and Michelle Roark of the U.S. snapping up the top two spots, followed by Margarita Marbler of Austria. Canada's Jackie Brown, a member of the development team, had her career best result in fourth place.

None of the Canadian men were on the podium in the second contest, with Bilodeau coming closest in fourth place. Vincent Marquis was eighth.

Guibalt Colas of France was first, followed by David Babic of the U.S. and Alexandr Smyshlyaev of Russia.

Canadians did better on the women's side with Jennifer Heil picking up the gold medal, followed by Hannah Kearney of the U.S. and Nikola Sudova of Czech Republic.

The aerials contest saw Canada's Veronika Bauer come close to her third podium of the season with a fourth place finish behind Nina Li and Xinxin Guo of China and Emily Cook of the U.S. Sabrina Guerin, a member of the development team, was seventh for Canada.

Steve Omischl won bronze for Canada in the men's aerials competitions, behind Ryan St. Onge of the U.S. and Zhongqing Liu of China. Kyle Nissen was seventh.

Omischl retained the yellow leaders bib and helped his chances of winning the overall title for the second year in a row.

In the halfpipe, Megan Gunning of Canada placed second, between Angeli Vanlaanen of the U.S. and Anais Caradeux of France. Sarah Burke, the overall champion from last year, did not compete.

Mike Riddle just missed the podium on the men's side in fourth place. Kevin Rolland and Xavier Bertoni of France were first and second, while Walter Wood of the U.S. placed third.

Next up for the freestyle team are the World Cup test events at Cypress Mountain this weekend.

As of last week the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team had a sizeable lead in the overall Nations Cup standings. The Canadians now have 2,051 points, almost 900 more than second place France, which has a total of 1,144 points.

The Cypress event is an important one for Canadians. Steve Omischl is first in aerials with 237 points, just 35 points more than Jeret Peterson of the U.S.

Alexandre Bilodeau is first in moguls with 290 points, while Guilbaut Colas of France is closing in with 249.

Jennifer Heil is second in women's moguls with 275 points, 65 points back of Hannah Kearney of the U.S.

Veronika Bauer can close in on the top-three in aerials. She is currently fourth with 191 points, 12 points back of Shanshan Zhao of China.

More information about this weekend's competition is at www.freestyleski.ca.


Skiers struggle heading into world championships
The Canadian Alpine Ski Team had another solid if unspectacular week on the World Cup circuit, with men and women struggling just to reach the top-15 in events at Garmisch Partenkirchen, Germany.

Weather was once again the top story, as the men's downhill was cancelled. The women raced a super G to replace a cancelled event from January, but still have two fewer downhill races than planned heading into this week's world championships at Val d'Isere, France.

In the women's slalom, Canada's Anna Goodman was solid once again in 19th place, while American Lindsey Vonn extended her lead in the overall standings by claiming the gold medal. Maria Riesch of Germany and Marusa Ferk of Slovenia were second and third.

Although the men's slalom team has been improving from week to week, Garmisch was a step back, with only Trevor White in 20th place and Michael Janyk 29th. Manfred Moelgg and Giorgio Rocca of Italy were first and second, followed by Reinfried Herbst of Austria.

The cancellation of the men's downhill was disappointing for the Canadian team, with Manuel Osborne-Paradis second in the second training run and Erik Guay sixth. Whistler's Robbie Dixon was seventh on the first day.

Organizers did manage to get off the women's super G event. Whistler's Britt Janyk was once again the top Canadian, in 12th place.

Lindsey Vonn picked up her second gold medal of the weekend, followed by Anja Paerson and Jessica Lindell-Vikarby of Sweden.

Medal production has been well below last year's total with just four podiums so far, 10 short of the team's goal for the season. So far all of those medals have been for the men's speed team. Last season Britt Janyk, Emily Brydon and Kelly VanderBeek combinjed for seven medals.

Injuries have been part of the problem. VanderBeek dislocated both shoulders in a training, and Bydon is sore heading into the world championships after a crash of her own. She is also battling the flu. Janyk is healthy, but has had a hard time cracking the top-10 with a series of 12th place finishes in downhill and super G this season.

Weather has also been an issue. Blizzards in North America and Europe has led to the cancellation of at least three women's events so far, and two men's races. The result has been fewer starts, fewer medal opportunities, disappointment after skiing well in training, and a general disruption of the flow for the World Cup tour.

There are some reasons for optimism. The team is consistent, and qualified a record 21 athletes for the world championships this week, including 11 past Olympians. The Canadians can also meet one goal for the season by winning two medals at Val d'Isere.

The list of qualified athletes includes four Whistler skiers, siblings Britt and Michael Janyk, Robbie Dixon and Manuel Osborne-Paradis.

Also on the team are Patrick Biggs, Julien Cousineau, Thomas Grandi, Erik Guay, Jan Hudec, John Kucera, Jean-Philippe Roy, Paul Stutz, Trevor White, Brigitte Acton, Emily Brydon, Marie-Michele Gagnon, Anna Goodman, Genevieve Simard, Kelly VanderBeek, Larisa Yurkiw and Marie-Pier Prefontaine.


Harvey close to podium at world juniors
Alex Harvey, the 20 year old cross-country skier who earned his first World Cup medal in Whistler last month, was as solid as expected at the World Junior Championships in Praz de Lys Sommand, France last week. However, he wasn't the only Canadian at the front of the pack.

In the opening 15 km freestyle, Frederic Valjas and Len Valjas of Canada were sixth and seventh respectively.

Harvey didn't race in that event, saving it for the men's 30 km pursuit race. He placed fourth in that group, 0.1 seconds back of the bronze medal. Frederic Touchette and Brent McMurtry were ninth and 10th for Canada, with Len Valjas 13th.

Brittany Webster, who was 20th in the women's 10 km freestyle, moved up to 14th in the women's 15 km pursuit.

In the men's classic sprint race, Harvey made it to the six-man finals, where he placed fifth. Len Valjas also made the cut, and placed sixth. In the small final, Frederic Touchette was eighth, and Brent McMurtry 10th.

Alysson Marshall was 13th in the women's sprint.

In the second sprint for younger skiers, Julien Nury was the top Canadian in eighth place.

The World Junior Championship continue through the end of the week.

Meanwhile, the International Paralympic Committee hosted its world championship events at Vuokatti, Finland. The big story was the McKeever brothers. Brian McKeever competes in the visually impaired category with his brother Robin acting as his guide.

They won two gold medals and two silver medals, before heading to the Scandinavian Cup races where they compete against able-bodied skiers.

On the women's side, Collette Bourgonje won a bronze in the women's sprint sit ski race.

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