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Canada's Marion Thenault competes during the women's aerials at the Beijing Olympics, on Feb. 14.MIKE BLAKE/Reuters

Canada’s Marion Thenault may be relatively new to the world of freestyle skiing, but she already understands the nature of the sport.

Thenault placed seventh in women’s aerials at the Beijing Olympics on Monday, falling short of the superfinal by just 0.71 points. The product of Sherbrooke, Que., missed her first jump of the final, making it essential that she land her second to advance to the final six.

She pumped her fists and yelled “Yes!” when she made it, scoring a 91.29 but then Hanna Huskova of Belarus stuck the landing on her second jump for a 92.00, bumping Thenault from the medal round.

“The second jump was not my best but it was very nice given the circumstances, so I’m happy with that jump,” said Thenault. “Again, I could have done a bit better and I would have gone to the superfinal, which would have been nice, but it’s part of the game.”

China’s Xu Mengtao delighted the spectators at Zhangjiakou Genting Snow Park when her 108.61 points in the superfinal stood up as the best score of the day for a gold medal. It was China’s first-ever Olympic gold in women’s aerials.

Huskova would improve in the superfinal to move up from sixth to take silver with a score of 107.95. Megan Nick of the United States earned bronze with a 93.76.

“I’m very happy with all my jumps but in the superfinal I went for a more difficult jump, and I’m happy I could land it very well,” said Huskova, who won gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

Thenault won’t leave China empty-handed.

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Thenault reacts after a run in the women’s aerials qualification round.kevin light/The Canadian Press

She earned a bronze in mixed aerials with teammates Miha Fontaine of Lac-Beauport, Que., and Quebec City’s Lewis Irving on Thursday in the sport’s Olympic debut. The 21-year-old Thenault said that her first Olympics was “super fun” and she’s eager to compete again in four years.

“There is so much attention, so much pressure, but at the same time it’s so much fun,” she said of performing at the Beijing Games. “There is so much I learned, it was incredible.

“I would do the Olympics every day, if I could.”

Four years ago, Thenault wasn’t even involved in the sport. She was a “weekend skier” who sometimes went to local resorts with her family. But the former gymnast attended an RBC Training Ground tryout in 2017 and was recruited by Freestyle Canada to its national team.

“From the outside, it really looks (like my rise was) fast and kind of unpredictable,” said Thenault. “But for me and my team and my loved ones, we knew that I was able to do it.

“I received so much support and had so much fun. I’m really proud of what I did in the past four years.”

Thenault showed on Monday that she can compete with the sport’s elite. Her qualifying run score of 93.06 would have put her just off the podium in the superfinal, 0.70 points behind eventual bronze medallist Nick.

She said that she intends to add to her repertoire in the off-season by developing a triple so that she can reach the podium on the World Cup circuit more consistently.

Earlier Monday, Naomy Boudreau-Guertin of Boischatel, Que., and Flavie Aumond, also from Lac-Beauport, were eliminated in the second round of qualifying.

Boudreau-Guertin scored a 77.43 to place 18th overall and Aumond was 19th after a second-run score of 76.86.

They were making their Olympic debuts. Despite not making the finals they were enthusiastic about their experiences at the Beijing Games.

“I’m so happy, I landed my two jumps, I had fun. It was great,” said Boudreau-Guertin. “You can never stop dreaming. If you have fun, the results are going to happen and you can’t stop dreaming.”

The two qualifying rounds were rescheduled from Sunday to Monday after a heavy snowfall at Zhangjiakou Genting Snow Park. The finals were also briefly moved from Monday to Tuesday before reverting back to their original time-slot.

“It was really hard after the qualification round was cancelled yesterday to start over again and refocus,” said Thenault, who added that ultimately she was pleased with her qualifying scores.

Temperatures plummeted before the nighttime finals, dropping as low as –25 Celsius before wind chill. A laughing Thenault said she wasn’t bothered by the frigid conditions.

“We had our training camp in Quebec City, which was like this every day,” she said. “This is like summer weather.”

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