Canadian Rochon claims aerials World Cup title
Olivier Rochon has claimed the Crystal Globe as the overall aerials World Cup champion, capping a comeback season for the Canadian.
The freestyle skier from Gatineau, Que., finished ninth in Saturday's event, good enough to clinch the title.
"I'm feeling good," Rochon said. "Actually I was pretty nervous this morning, it felt like my first jump of the season but I compete well under pressure. And after that first jump I knew the hardest part was done."
The 22-year-old returned to the competitive slopes this season after his coaches Daniel Murphy and Dennis Capicik suspended Rochon for a year, asking the skier to take that time to think about his future in the sport.
"It was for sure a very out-of-the-ordinary type of decision [to suspend Rochon]," Murphy said. "Heart-breaking and difficult for us as coaches, but at the same time clear in my mind.
"Olivier is very talented, and sometimes the problem with talented people is to make them realize that at some point they will max out their talent. Our philosophy was to make him realize he can do so much more. . .
"I knew he could reach a high level if he would embrace that and I knew that for an athlete like Oli losing one year out of the next four years wouldn't be the end of the world."
Dimitri Dashinski from Belarus won Saturday's event with a score of 119.82, Hang Zhou of China was second with 114.81 while Oleksandr Abramenko of Ukraine earned the bronze with 102.70.
"We had two plans today: get enough points to get the Globe and maybe get a podium," Rochon said. "I'm happy of course, but kind of feel uncompleted because I didn't podium."
Montreal's Jean-Christophe Andre was sixth in his best finish of the season.
Rochon qualified first for Saturday's semifinals with a personal-best score of 129.65, which guaranteed him the Crystal Globe.
A small touch down in his finals jump cost Rochon the chance of a medal.
"I was a little hesitant after my double full in my finals jump and I opened up a bit early and missed my landing by a bit. . . my back touched," Rochon said. "But you know in those kind of jumps with the height I go, those little hesitations can cost you and it did today."
Rochon joins the ranks of such as Steve Omischl, Nicolas Fontaine and Phil Laroche, who all won the Crystal Globe. It was the 20th time since 1980 that a Canadian has won a Globe.