ariels sking

Beijing, China – The Canadian Freestyle Aerial Team opens the season this weekend with two events in Beijing, China. On Saturday, December 19, both the men and women will compete individually followed by a team event on Sunday.

Both competitions will take place in the 2008 Olympic Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest, where a specially constructed, 41 meter tall scaffolding structure will be used for the event.

This is the third straight season that the event is held in the Bird’s Nest. Travis Gerrits won the inaugural competition in 2013.

“Going in to the same World Cup I won here two years ago is awesome,” said Gerrits. “We are so graciously hosted here  and the event is of the highest caliber even for early season. Since the scaffolding site is inside, there are no other variables like wind that we normally deal with being an outdoor, winter sport. I am coming in with high hopes and lots of confidence and am really looking to start the year off with a bang and reach the podium.”

The team is coming off of a strong training camp in Ruka, Finland, where many of the athletes learned to perfect new tricks. While in Ruka, some members of the team competed in the FIS Europa Cup that was eventually won by Olivier Rochon.

“Competing at the Europa Cup gave me a confidence boost,” said Rochon. “I was able to win the event without being fully at my best or using my most difficult jumps. I am feeling great coming into this World Cup. Our pre-season training camp was one of the best camps I have personally had since the season when I won my Crystal Globe. My body feels good and I’m mentally where I want to be.”

Joining Gerrits, 24, and Rochon, 26, in Beijing will be Lewis Irving, 20, and team rookie Catrine Lavallée, 20, making her FIS World Cup debut.

“The entire team has been great since I joined them,” said Lavallée. “The national team feels like a family and they welcome you with open arms. There was a small transition when I first joined. But now I feel like I am one of them. My biggest goal this year is to make a final in World Cup. I’d like to go to as many World Cups as possible and I know my performance will dictate that.”

Schedules for Saturday and Sunday are available.

The following athletes are expected to compete in Beijing:

Men:Travis Gerrits (Milton, ON), Olivier Rochon (Gatineau, QC), Lewis Irving (Quebec City, QC)

Women:Catrine Lavallée (Montreal, QC)

Please note that JC André (Montreal, QC) and Mélissa Corbo (Blainville, QC) will not be competing due to injury.