Russian, Canadian and Chinese podium in new aerials format
Canada’s Travis Gerrits pulled off a huge quintuple twisting, triple back flip in the finals of the seventh annual Festival AcrobatX competition at the Yves Laroche National Aerials Training Centre here today – good enough for the silver medal.Russia’s Ilya Burov won the men’s event with a score of 122.00, followed in the slightest of margins by Milton, Ontario’s Gerrits at 121.5 and China’s Liu Zhongqing in third at 113.98.
Today’s FIS water ramp event saw some the world’s best aerialists compete their biggest tricks at Canada’s premier summer aerial training centre.
“I’m feeling really awesome,” said Gerrits, “a quint is a huge jump for me and I love the adrenaline of throwing one of the biggest tricks I’ve ever done in competition. I’ve been jumping well and working well with my coaches and it’s paying off.”
The event was hampered by unstable weather, with a lightening storm delaying the start by 45 minutes. Nevertheless, athletes took advantage of a new format to impress the crowd with increasingly exciting tricks. Canada’s Jean-Christophe André, the cowboy of the team, even performed quadruple flips, a trick never seen at on-snow competitions. In the process he wowed the crowd and finished a respectable sixth position.
Under the new format — which is being considered for the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi — each aerialist gets two chances to make it from qualifications into the 12-person final. The final itself has three rounds of sudden death competition, leaving four athletes in the decisive round. The complicating factor is that each athlete must perform a different jump in each of the final rounds. As a result, winning requires not only three exceptional acrobatic tricks, but also strategy and great teamwork with the coaching staff.
Gerrits said he likes the new format, “First, with two chances to qualify for finals it means that most likely the best 12 jumpers will make it to finals. Second, the elimination format in finals is really exciting for the crowd.”
On the women’s side, while Canadians Sabrina Guerin (Laval, Que.), Stephanie Pratte (Quebec City, Que.) and Melissa Corbo all made it to the finals, but it was to be China’s day. The powerhouse aerial nation swept the podium. Kong Fanyu was first at 109.76, Yu Yang was second at 89.89 and Shuangyfei Dai was third at 85.75.
Guerin advanced past the first round, but a mistake in her takeoff cost her dearly on her second triple jump of the day. She “got lost” in the air and landed on her face in the water.
“I was a little winded, but I’m fine,” said Guerin who added that the lightening delay “meant that my legs weren’t as sharp as they should have been for the competition.”
Nevertheless, Guerin has been very happy with her training this summer, which has seen her learn five new triple jumps, two of which she hopes to compete on snow this coming season.
It was mutual admiration between Guerin and her coaches. Dennis Capicik said, “I’m very happy with her progress. She’s been doing impressive and very strong triples, she’s a triple girl and she’s very comfortable up there.”
For her part, Guerin said, “I’ve been working really well with my coaches and any success I have is because of them.”
Capicik also commented that while the overall showing at today’s event may not show it, including the disappointing first-round knock out of World Champion Warren Shouldice, the Canadian Team has had an excellent summer of training and he is optimistic about the upcoming competitive season. “This event is really for us to test out new tricks and try out the new format.”
The Canadian Freestyle Ski Association congratulates Festival AcrobatX event chair Nicole Morin and her amazing team of dedicated volunteers on another successful event weekend. The National Aerial Team has two more water ramp training camps scheduled before on-snow training begins in November.