Canada's Omischl, skicross team triumphant
Steve Omischl of Kelowna, B.C., won gold Friday night at a World Cup freestyle aerials event in Whistler ahead of Anton Kushnir of Belarus and Stanislav Kravchuk of Ukraine.
On the women's side, Evelyne Leu of Switzerland was the top aerialist, finishing ahead of Shuangfei Dai and Shuang Cheng, both of China.
Omischl maintained his sizeable lead atop the World Cup standings with 337 points, while Leu's win put her in seventh place in World Cup rankings with 208 points.
"I did two pretty good jumps for sure," said Omischl, a three-time World Cup aerials champion.
"This is a full event to simulate the Olympics. In the semi-finals I did two solid jumps, then finals and two solid jumps again so I can't ask for more."
Omischl was one of three Canadians to make the final 12, along with Ryan Blais, who finished fourth, and Olivier Rochon, who was ninth.
Veronika Bauer of Toronto, the sole Canadian in the women's final 12 aerialists, had a tough night and finished 11th.
Omischl's performance came after Canadians took five of six podium spots in the men's and women's skicross final at a World Cup event on Vancouver's Cypress Mountain.
Chris Del Bosco, a Colorado-born skier with dual citizenship, finished first on the men's side, with Stanley Hayer, of Edmonton, and Davey Barr, of Vancouver, finishing second and third respectively.
"This was an awesome day for the Canadians," said Del Bosco. "We wanted to do well here. We've been planning on it all off-season and we kind of wanted to show everyone what we're made of."
He added it was "just amazing" to have three men and two women on the podium.
Barr was at a loss to explain the men's success Friday.
"You know, I'm not really sure. Our support staff is unbelievable this year," he said.
Although the Canadians had success on the day, Hayer said he was disappointed with the second-place finish.
"[It] was probably the worst I've ever felt getting second. I thought I had it [a win]. Everyone said I had a huge lead going in there but I jumped a little far on the last one," he said.
Aleisha Cline, of Squamish, B.C., was the winner on the women's side, with Ashleigh McIvor, of Whistler, B.C., in second. Austrian Karin Huttart finished third.
Cline, whose youngest of two children recently turned nine months, said Friday was only her "40th day of skiing in five years, including training."
She added she had already "cried three times" since crossing the finish line first.
The World Cup event at Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver is the ninth stop on the circuit and included aerials, moguls and the rising sport of skicross.
The events are also serving as tests for the 2010 Winter Games of the three sites atop the mountain, which will be the Olympic venues.
Men's and women's moguls are set for Saturday.
Skicross will be making its Olympic debut for the 2010 Games.
Canada will send 18 athletes to the 2010 Games in freestyle, divided among aerialists, mogul racers and skicross.