Travis Gerrits jumped his way to a silver medal in front of a large Canadian crowd in warm conditions on Saturday at World Cup aerials event.
It was the first World Cup podium for the Milton, Ont. native, who scored 114.61 in the super final round of the competition. Belarus's Dmitri Dashinski took the gold at 120.24 and China's Hang Zhou was third with a score of 100.45.
"I'm kind of on top of the world," said the 21-year-old, who suffered a knee injury last January. "I couldn't be happier. To come back from my injury last season and to stomp my jumps here, it's just awesome."
Gerrits, who was ninth in China last week, added that he still isn't up to the full degree of difficulty (DD) he hopes to compete this season. He competed a triple twisting triple back flip — known as a full, full, full — in the finals but plans to add another twist by next week's competition in Lake Placid, N.Y.
"The full, full, full was the only jump I had left in my arsenal before I start doing bigger jumps next week in Placid," said Gerrits. "So to podium here with a lower DD means my coaches and I are doing all the right things technically, we're taking it slow which is the right thing to do with my training."
Olivier Rochon from Gatineau, Que., and Montreal's Jean-Christophe Andre advanced to the 12-man finals but failed to qualify for the four-man super final.
Rochon, who was third last week in China, landed in eighth here with a score of 99.12.
I was happy with qualifications, but then in finals I was good in the air but I landed a little bit deep and my ski went into a bit of a split position; as I was bringing them back I caught an edge and it was very heavy snow, so I fell," said Rochon. "If you fall after five metres of showing control they (the judges) don't deduct it, but I was a little short on that one.
"I would be more bummed out if it was something technical I did, it was more of bad luck. We were in the fog, and warm, really heavy snow so when you land you make a big hole."
Andre also fell on his final jump and ended up in 11th position with a score of 83.43 after qualifying seventh. He too is looking forward to upping his degree of difficulty next week.
The only other Canadian in the competition was rookie Dave Blais of Lac Beauport, Que. He finished 22nd with a score of 81.78 in the qualification round.
On the women's side, China's Mengtao Xu was first at 104.5; Lydia Lassila of Australia took the silver with a score of 95.52 and Yu Yang of China was third at 91.29.
Sabrina Guerin of Laval, Que., fell on her qualifications jump and finished 18th with a score of 48.82.
She acknowledged that after a week of excellent training, perhaps the hometown pressure got to her,
"I think I felt a lot of the pressure from being at home and being the only girl competing for Canada," said Guerin. "I went forward on the jump and I bent my knees and I tried to save the landing and it didn't really work and I finally crashed at the bottom."