Canada's Marion Thénault finishes 7th in Olympic women's aerials final

Marion Thénault's attempt to secure a second Olympic medal in aerials skiing at Beijing 2022 ended Monday evening with a seventh-place finish after narrowly missing the six-woman super final at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, China.

Teammates Boudreau-Guertin, Aumond ousted in qualifying; Xu Mengtao wins gold

Marion Thénault of Sherbrooke, Que., finished seventh in the Olympic women's aerials final on Monday in Zhangjiakou, China. The 21-year-old won a bronze medal in mixed team aerials last week. (Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images)

Marion Thénault's attempt to secure a second Olympic medal in aerials skiing at Beijing 2022 ended Monday evening.

The first-time Olympian amassed 91.29 points on her second and best jump and placed seventh in the final, failing to finish among the top six for the super final at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, China.

"The second jump was not my best but it was very nice given the circumstances, so I'm happy with that jump," Thénault told The Canadian Press. "Again, I could have done a bit better and I would have gone to the super final, which would have been nice, but it's part of the game."

Thénault of Sherbrooke, Que., teamed up with fellow Canadians Miha Fontaine and Lewis Irving to win the first-ever bronze medal in mixed team aerials on Thursday as the event made its Winter Games debut.

WATCH | Thénault rides strong 2nd jump to 7th-place finish:

It took a week for Marion Thenault to stick with aerial skiing

1 year ago
Duration 2:15
As a child watching the Olympics, Marion Thenault never thought she would get into something like aerial skiing. Now, the Canadian will be the one twisting through the air wearing the maple leaf at Beijing 2022.

Xu Mengtao landed a jump with three somersaults and collected 108.61 points to become the first woman from China to win the competition. The all-time leader in World Cup victories with 27 also boasts 49 World Cup podiums in 71 starts and a medal from every world championship in which she has competed.

"It's a sense of honour, and a sense of mission fulfilled," Xu, the daredevil they call "Tao-Tao," said after capturing the gold medal on home turf.

Hanna Huskova of Belarus, who won 2018 Olympic gold, was a silver medallist Monday with her best jump scoring 107.95 while Megan Nick (93.76) held off fellow American Ashley Caldwell for bronze.

Naomy Boudreau-Guertin of Boischatel, Que., and Flavie Aumond of Lac-Beauport, Que., were eliminated in the second round of qualifying earlier in the day.

WATCH | Marion Thénault — a natural in aerials:

Aerial skier welcomes congratulatory hug from competitor

1 year ago
Duration 1:00
Chinese aerial skier, Mengtao Xu, reacts to her gold medal win. Competitor and friend, Ashley Caldwell, joins her in the celebration.

Thénault, 21, shone under pressure on her second and final jump — back double full-full — with a 3.525 level of difficulty. She displayed big rotation on the first of two flips and a double somersault, executing the landing well with little compression.

The 21-year-old held the sixth and last super final qualifying spot with four athletes left to jump, including two-time world champion Laura Peel of Australia, who went on to score 100.02 to eliminate her Canadian opponent with a 4.293 level of difficulty being the difference.

"There is so much attention, so much pressure, but at the same time it's so much fun," Thénault told CP of performing at the Beijing Games. "There is so much I learned, it was incredible.

"I would do the Olympics every day, if I could."

In the opening qualifying round, Thénault scored 93.06 to place fifth of six skiers and advance to the final where she couldn't hold her landing after two difficult full rotations on the second flip and mustered just 66.97 points.

8th in world rankings

Thénault has been a quick study since gaining a spot on the national development team four years ago and training full-time after being recruited by Freestyle Canada.The former gymnast became a full-time member of Canada's World Cup team in the 2020-21 season and twice reached the podium on the way to grabbing tour rookie of the year honours.

WATCH | U.S. competitor Caldwell joins Xu's gold-medal celebration:

Thénault entered this campaign coming off a sixth-place performance at the world championships and posted three top-five finishes, including silver at a World Cup last month in Lac-Beauport, Que., to place eighth in the world rankings.

In January 2021, she won bronze in Moscow and had her career-best result with gold in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Thénault said she wants to add to her repertoire in the off-season by developing a triple for a better chance to reach the World Cup podium more consistently.

For Xu, one of the handful of women to consistently try triple flips over the years in a sport full of daredevils, Monday's win ended years of close calls with five silver medals and two bronze since 1998.

When she landed firm and kept her footing on her final jump, Xu pointed one, then both forefingers to the sky. She let out one shriek, then another when the score came up with a "1" by her name. The horns honked. The hundred-or-so fans allowed into the stadium cheered wildly. The Chinese media in the interview area clapped and hollered.

"I want to say the fans: You wanted an immersive Games. Today, I gave you an immersive Games," Xu said.

WATCH | Full event replay: Women's aerials:


Doug Harrison has covered the professional and amateur scene as a senior writer for CBC Sports since 2003. Previously, the Burlington, Ont., native covered the NHL and other leagues for Follow the award-winning journalist @harrisoncbc

With files from The Associated Press

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