Alexandre Bilodeau was so hot in 2009, it is surprising that the snow didn’t melt beneath his skis.
The 22-year-old mogulist from Montreal will look to make his mark on Cypress Mountain in Vancouver, coming off a magnificent World Cup season where he finished first overall after winning eight medals in nine starts, five of them gold.
Fortunately, the rest of the Olympic team pulled its weight as well, as Canada placed first in the World Cup standings.
Canada’s banner year in 2009 included 20 World Cup and four World Championship medals, good for best in the world.
Although 2010 has not been as successful thus far for the men’s freestyle team, they still remain a serious medal threat and will look to reach the podium for the first time since 1994.
“We’re elated to be sending such a strong team overall with significant medal chances,” said Peter Judge, CEO of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.
“The athletes who will don the maple leaf in Vancouver next month have a real chance to help Canada own the podium this time around.”
But Canada’s path to gold might get a little bumpy, as they will be facing robust competition and heightened expectations.
Standing in Canada’s way will be Australian Dale Begg-Smith, the heavy favourite coming into the event and reigning Olympic gold medalist.
Guibault Colas of France, Michael Morse of the U.S. and Jesper Bjoernlund of Sweden will also look to play the role of spoiler.
Moguls was first introduced as a medal event at the Olympics in 1992.
In this competition, the skiers maneuver their way down a steep slope, edging their way over and around large bumps (called moguls) spread throughout the course while also performing two different jumps along the way.
Athletes are judged on their overall time, their body position while going over the moguls as well as the difficulty and execution of their jumps.
Aerials will provide another opportunity for the Canadian team to reach the podium, led by four-time World Cup champion Steve Omischl, the man to beat in Vancouver.
Besides Omischl and fellow Canadian Warren Shouldice, other medal contenders include Anton Kushnir and Dmitry Dashinski of Belarus and Xiaopeng Han of China.
Xiaopeng won Olympic gold in 2006 while Dashinski captured the silver.
In aerials, the goal is to perform several different jumps that include a combination of twists and flips. Aerialists have the option of launching themselves from three different jumps, or “kickers”, depending on the nature of their trick.
Each skier participates in a two-jump elimination round and the athletes with the best score move on to a two-jump final, where the skier with the highest combined score for both jumps wins.
Skiers are scored based on three different components of the jump: their form during takeoff and while executing the trick (50 per cent), the height and distance of their jump (20 per cent) and the landing (30 per cent).
Ski Cross is an exciting fast-paced sport that will captivate spectators who make the trip to Cypress Mountain to take in the Olympics’ newest event.
Adopted from the X-Games circuit, Ski Cross features a four-man race down a thrilling terrain of rolls, bumps, banks, jumps and turns. The two skiers who cross the finish line first move on to the next round.
Due to the layout of the course, Ski Cross usually entails some very exciting finishes and devastating crashes.
Canada will be represented by 27-year-old Sudbury native Chris Del Bosco who is currently ranked third in World Cup rankings after finishing second in 2009.
Other hopefuls include Stan Hayer of Edmonton, and Dave Duncan of London.
They will be in tough against a myriad of opponents including Michael Schmid of Switzerland, Andreas Matt of Austria and Tomas Kraus of the Czech Republic.