Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Medal hopes soar in aerials

Trio of high-flying Canucks reachs finals

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VANCOUVER -- Steve Omischl wasn't about to treat this Olympic Games like a night in Vegas. Not this time. No high risk gambling like he did four years ago at the 2006 Olympics in Turin.

Omischl -- the man with everything the freestyle skiing world has to offer except an Olympic medal -- kept it simple at Cypress Mountain Monday night and qualified for Thursdays' 12-man aerials final, something he failed to do in Turin.

Omischl played it safe and managed a two-jump total of 233.88 points to qualify eighth. Calgarians Warren Shouldice and Kyle Nissen qualified sixth and ninth with scores of 235.93 and 233.71.

"The only thing I was focusing on was trying to hit two takeoffs and not worry about anything else," said the 31-year-old Omischl, who is trying to end something of an Olympic jinx at these home Games.

In 2002 at Salt Lake City the North Bay, Ont., native finished 11th after qualifying fourth. In Turin he attempted an extremely difficult jump in the qualifying session, a jump he'd never successfully landed and had barely even attempted. He crashed and his Olympic dream were shattered.

So Monday he went with better odds, used his old reliables -- a full double full and lay double full -- and got the job done.

"I could have done a harder jump with the potential of getting a higher score but it was like, no, do my bread and butter, get the job done, don't do anything more than land a nice jump, get my ticket punched. I'm very happy to get into the finals."

Omischl has 20 World Cup victories, four World Cup aerials overall titles, a 2005 world championship -- everything, except a coveted Olympic medal.

And so he will ramp it up a bit on Thursday. He'll use a full double full in his first jump and then double full full full for his second jump to stay within striking distance of the podium.

China's Zongyang Jia led qualifying with a score of 242.52.

With three men in the final there's a chance for Canada to win its first freestyle aerials medal since Philippe LaRoche and Lloyd Langlois won silver and bronze in 1994 at Lillehammer, when aerials made its Olympic debut as a medal sport.

 

-- Canwest Olympic Team

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 23, 2010 C3

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