Olivier Rochon of Gatineau, Quebec won his first FIS World Cup podium for the first time here today at the Canada Post Grand Prix, capping off a six-medal weekend for the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team.
Conditions were extremely challenging on the jump site at Canada Olympic Park, with warm temperatures melting the kickers and variable wind conditions affecting the athletes’ ability to guage their speed coming into the jumps.
Nevertheless, Rochon and teammate Jean-Christophe Andre managed to jump well enough to land themselves in final round of 12.
Andre, who qualified fourth, had trouble with his landing on his final jump, and ended the day in eighth spot with a score of 83.19.
But Rochon, who’s goal at the beginning of the season was to win one World Cup medal this year – a feat he already managed three weeks ago with a silver in Quebec — managed to hold his focus through the shifting weather conditions and landed himself on top of the podium at 125.67.
The former gymnast who qualified third today said, “It was such a tough day, the sun was coming in and out which was changing the speed on the course.
“When it was my turn to go I stepped down because the sun was behind a cloud, but I still got way more air than I expected,” he said explaining, “I went so huge in the air that I landed three-quarters of the way down the landing hill. But, I landed perfectly so it was all good.”
Rochon, who now has a firm grip on the FIS yellow leader’s bib, bested Guangpu Qi and Zhongqing Liu of China, they finished in second and third with scores of 124.43 and 119.03, respectively.
“It’s pretty amazing,” said Rochon, “My first World Cup gold medal and I earned it at home in Canada, I couldn’t imagine anything better.”
On the women’s side China’s Mengtao Xu took gold at 98.52. Her teammate Shuang Cheng was second with a score of 92.35 and Olga Volkova of the Ukraine earned the bronze at 85.05.
Rochon’s medal was the sixth for Canada this weekend, after the slopestyle and halfpipe teams took two golds and a silver at the X Games in Aspen, and the mogul team earned a gold an silver here yesterday.
“The team is still keenly feeling the loss of Sarah Burke,” commented Canada Freestyle CEO Peter Judge, “but it seems they are finding a way to use her example to propel them forward.”
The Canadian Aerial and Mogul squads compete next week in Deer Valley, UT.