Canada’s freestyle aerialists, Marion Thénault and Lewis Irving, landed on the gold and bronze-medal steps of the podium respectively at the final World Cup competition of the season on Saturday in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Thénault, of Sherbrooke, Que., soared to her first-ever World Cup victory with a score of 89.88 points after landing a double-full full in the super finals.
“Honestly, it just feels amazing,” beamed Thénault following the podium ceremony. “I felt so proud and overwhelmed with emotions on the moment. I showed what I was able to do. I am still on a cloud right now.”
The 20-year-old topped the silver medallist from Russia, Liubov Nikitian by 3.52 points (86.36). Zhanbota Aldabergenova, of Kazakhstan, claimed the bronze after posting a score of 84.99 on her home hill.
Each of the athletes in the field took one qualification jump with the top-12 athletes moving onto the finals. After one more jump, the top-six athletes then advance to the super finals. Canada’s Thénault qualified in third place, landing a near-flawless full-full and a score of 83.79. The young Canuck punched her ticket to the super finals after completing another full-full in the finals where she received a fourth-place score of 83.16.
Thénault’s victory was just the second podium ever for the World Cup rookie. Her first podium triumph came in January of this year when she was third at a World Cup in Moscow, Russia.
The accolades continued Saturday for the rising star on Canada’s World Cup squad. In addition to finishing in third place in the Overall World Cup women’s standings this season with 312 points, Thénault shared Rookie of the Year honours on the World Cup with Ukraine’s Dmytro Kotovskyi.
Australia’s Laura Peel won the Overall World Cup title with 450 points followed by American Winter Vinecki in second spot with 343 ranking points.
The only other Canadian in the women’s competition was Naomy Boudreau-Guertin who did not advance past the qualification round with the top-12, finishing 13th.
The Canadian trail to the World Cup aerials podium continued in the men’s competition on Saturday in Almaty.
Canada’s Lewis Irving celebrated his third bronze medal of the season after nailing a full double-full full in the super final.
The 25-year-old from Quebec City scored 113.28 to lock up the final spot on the men’s podium.
“I’m really happy with how today went. I was pretty bummed this week after the World Championships, so to bounce back from that and finish off the season with a third place feels amazing,” said Irving, who now has six career World Cup podiums.
Irving shared the podium behind two Swiss athletes. Pirmin Werner won the gold with a score of 121.72 – just 2.26 points ahead of teammate Nicolas Gygax who landed on the silver-medal step of the podium with a score of 119.46.
Determined to end the season on a strong note, Irving, a 2018 Olympian, was in complete control of his jumps throughout the competition. He qualified third after scoring 111.31 for a double-full full-full. Irving cleaned the same jump up in the finals to post the second-highest score of 119.91, earning him a spot in the super finals with the big six.
“Marion and I had discussed all year finishing on the podium together and we finally got it done,” said Irving. “The season hasn’t been easy, so to end on such a good note is great. I’m looking forward to getting home and getting some well deserved rest.”
Three other Quebec-based athletes suited up in the men’s event. Miha Fontaine’s day came to an end in the second round where he finished eighth. Emile Nadeau also made it to the finals, finishing 12th. Alexandre Duchaine qualified 14th.
The World Cup freestyle season wraps on Sunday in Almaty with a dual moguls competition.
CANADIAN ATHLETES’ PLACINGS:
Women: Marion Thénault (1), Naomy Boudreau-Guertin (13)
Men: Lewis Irving (3), Miha Fontaine (8), Emile Nadeau (12), Alexandre Duchaine (14)