Canada’s Olivier Rochon opened the 2013 World Cup freestyle ski season where he left off last year — on the podium.
The Gatineau, Que., native captured a bronze medal Saturday, capping off an strong showing for the Canadian team in the first aerial event of the FIS World Cup season.
Zongyang Jia scored 128.51 points to win gold, while Chinese teammate Guangpu Qi was second with 128.05. Rochon, who won the overall World Cup aerials title in 2012, scored 84.75.
Rochon said that after using the only quadruple twisting triple back flip that he had ready for competition in the final round, he was left with only a triple twisting triple back flip for the super final round of four.
He added that under the best circumstances a triple-twisting jump would not have been enough to beat the Chinese skiers.
“This competition was really an extension of our [pre-season] training camp because we didn’t really get to finish the camp because of bad weather, so I didn’t have a chance to get up to my full [degree of difficulty],” Rochon said.
“I did make a small mistake on my last jump, but I knew that even if I hadn’t it couldn’t have scored high enough to give me a win, so I’m really happy with the result. It’s the best I could have hoped for.”
Every member of the Canadian team made it to the final round of the opening aerial event of the FIS World Cup season.
Travis Gerrits of Milton, Ont., was ninth, while Montreal’s Jean-Christophe Andre was 10th.
Sabrina Guerin of Laval, Que., competing for the first time since missing last season with a torn Achilles tendon, was 12th.
“I had a good week of training and every day I was getting better and better at my jumps and my landings,” Guerin said. “Landings are what I’m working on and it’s coming. I was happy to be in finals, especially in my first competition back.”
Mengtao Xu of China won the women’s gold. Olympic champion Lydia Lassila of Australia took the silver while China’s Nina Li was third.