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Canadian Olivier Rochon captures men's aerials gold at World Cup event

01/29/2012 05:01 EST | Updated 03/30/2012 05:12 EDT
CALGARY - Canadian freestyle skier Olivier Rochon went all out for his first career World Cup victory in Men's aerials Sunday.

The Gatineau, Que., native finished first with 125.67 points in the men's final at Canada Olympic Park. Although he admitted to having too much speed going into his jump, Rochon managed to execute the twisting acrobatic moves in the air before sticking his landing.

"In my jump I got scared because I went big and I had to stretch out a lot," Rochon said. "I managed to put down my feet, so I was happy. Right when I landed I knew it was a pretty good score and probably a podium."

Rochon's teammate Warren Shouldice, who is sidelined with a concussion, was among the spectators watching the event and he was impressed with Rochon's composure in the air.

"That was probably one of the best saves of a jump I've ever seen," said the reigning world champion men's aerialist. "Obviously he was way bigger than he wanted to be. He did an amazing job of stretching."

China's Qi Guangpu was second with 124.34 points and compatriot Liu Zhongqing was third with 119.03.

Montreal's Jean-Christophe Andre, who finished fourth in Calgary last year, was eighth with 83.19 points. Andre also had a bit too much speed going into his jump and it cost him as he fell backwards on his landing.

"I definitely went for it," Andre said. "I was a little bit too excited on the takeoff and tried to slow it down but unfortunately I was a little bit too big. I'm really happy. It was my first final this year."

China's Xu Mengtao won the women's event with 98.52 points, while compatriot Cheng Shuang was second with 92.35. Olga Volkova of Ukraine was third with 85.05.

"I feel good," Mengtao said after her gold-medal performance. "I was so happy. I feel the score is good and jumping is good."

Rochon remained atop the overall men's standings with 266 points. He was well ahead of Switzerland's Thomas Lambert, who was second with 195.

Rochon won silver earlier this month in his first official competition since being suspended by the Canadian team for disciplinary problems in July 2010.

"My goal was to get a podium this season, because when I came back in the summer, I hadn't lost a lot," said Rochon, who was named top rookie on the World Cup circuit in 2009. "I came back right to the level where I stopped two years ago. I knew right away that I was going to be able to do that."

Peter Judge, the CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association, has been impressed with Rochon's attitude this season and his commitment to being a high-performance athlete.

"It was a tough year for him to have to sit out last year," Judge said. "To come back as emphatically and consistently as he's come back this year, I think it's really amazing. You don't see many athletes that bounce back out of those situations.

"For him it's a real testament to the kind of changes he's made in his life and the kind of changes that I think are going to prove to be real fruitful for him."

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