Volkova and Krotov best aerials season opener
Pavel Krotov of Russia, Olivier Rochon of Canada, Naoya Tabara of Japan and Stanislav Kravchuk of the Ukraine competed in the four-man super-final in the aerial season opener of the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup at the Canada Post Grand Prix at Ski Mont Gabriel on Sunday. It was the first time the new super final format was used at this level of competition. Under the new rules, the top four jumpers from finals jump again to determine the order of the podium.
Pavel Krotov took the World Cup victory, while Olivier Rochon finished second. Naoya Tabara claimed the third place, leaving Kravchuk off the podium in fourth. It was the first World Cup podium for all three athletes.
In another first, Tabara’s medal is the only world cup aerials medal on the record books for Japan, and one that has a Canadian connection. In fact Tabara and his teammate Takanori Minami have been training with the Canadian Team for the past three years.
“After 2010 the Japanese Ski Association was going to cut their program, but in aerials and in Canadian Freestyle we have a culture of helping each other. So we get some money from Japan to coach their athletes and we put that money towards our own athlete development program,” explained Canadian Aerial Head Coach Daniel Murphy, who added, “I’m really happy for Tabara and I hope Japan recognizes his skill and rallies behind him and the aerial program now.”
On the ladies’ side the podium went to Olga Volkova of the Ukraine who took the gold, Emily Cook of the US who was second and Laura Peel of Australia who was third.
For Cook it was only her fourth day on snow this season due to a knee injury. She said “The old format really rewarded consistency, but I love how this is a new start on every jump. It’s a cool opportunity and it really fits my style. My success today was really due to my experience and being able to put it down when it matters.
I’ve been recovering from sore knees, so was pretty excited to get a lot of jumps off today. I hadn't gotten to my full degree of difficulty until today.”
For Australian Laura Peel it was the first podium finish of her career and she was as surprised as anybody when she secured third place in the event.
Peel said she was “super-stoked” by her performance in the new competition format. She fought back from eighth place in qualifying to win the first final with the most difficult jump in her repertoire, a double twisting double somersault, and advanced to the super final. With regulations preventing an athlete from using the same jump in the first final and the super final, Peel executed her simpler routine in the super final, a double somersault with a tuck, which opened the way for the Ukrainian and the American to finish higher in the medal round.
Volkova and Cook used jumps with a lower degree of difficulty in the first final, saving their best jumps for the super final.
The FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup continues in Lake Placid, NY, USA next week for a mogul event on Thursday and aerial events on Friday and Saturday nights.