Vancouver, March 30, 2023 – The Canadian aerials delegation to the Freestyle Ski Junior World Championships saw three of its members step onto the podium in Obertauern, Austria, on Thursday. The trio formed by Charlie Fontaine, Anthony Noël and Victor Primeau laid down an excellent performance in the team event on Wednesday to clinch the bronze medal.
The Canadians, who came out of the qualification rounds in first place, scored 244.53 points in the final to finish just behind the Americans, with 244.97. The event was won by China, with a score of 262.22.
“We won the qualifiers, but in the final, the Chinese team’s jumps had a higher degree of difficulty, and all three of their athletes performed them well,” explained coach Nicolas Fontaine.
“This past week, Charlie didn’t jump much due to a minor health issue. But she landed her two jumps during the competition, putting Canada in a favourable position,” he said of his daughter, who earned 68.64 points in the final.
Anthony Noël struggled with his landings, earning a score of 80.72 from the judges.
Victor Primeau was the third Canadian to race. His score of 95.17, the highest of the entire final, lifted his team onto the third step of the podium.
“By finishing first in the qualifications, the Canadian team showed that it is very competitive. It was a great competition. The level of pressure was high because no one wanted to botch their jumps. We’re happy with the result,” added Fontaine.
Fourth place for Alec Haineault
On Thursday, Primeau attempted to defend his title of junior world champion, acquired last year in Italy. On his first jump, the Québécois was awarded a score of 99.06 for his well-executed Back Double-Full-Double Full. Chen Shuo of China was the only competitor to beat him, with 99.84 points.
Despite falling during his second run, Primeau earned 79.31 points, which kept him in provisional second place as he headed into the big final.
During the second qualification round, technical issues prevented the judges, who were working remotely, from viewing the videos, thus preventing them from carrying out their functions. Once the problem was resolved, the weather conditions began to affect the course. The high temperatures slowed the athletes considerably, while thunderstorms and winds moved in to further alter the course before the finals.
It was therefore very difficult for the teams to set out their strategies, assess the course and estimate the athletes’ speeds as they approached the jumps.
“We had no idea because the conditions were constantly changing,” noted Fontaine, visibly disappointed by the situation.
In the final, Primeau picked up too much speed on his approach and fell upon landing. He was therefore relegated to sixth place. Shuo, who had led the qualifiers, had a similar experience and finished fifth.
Alec Haineault also advanced to the super final on Thursday. As the first to descend, he earned a score of 85.65. He then had to wait until all his opponents had raced before learning his final ranking.
He finished the day at the foot of the podium, 2.47 points behind bronze medallist Connor Curran of the USA.
“Alec has been a revelation! He’s a very consistent jumper and he’s really fun to watch. He did very well today and showed a lot of promise for the future,” noted Fontaine.
Wang Guochen of China was crowned junior world champion thanks to his score of 96.93. He was followed by Volodymyr Kushnir of Ukraine with 90.24.
Pierre-Olivier Côté and Anthony Noël finished the qualification rounds in 12th and 15th place.
In the women’s competition, Rosalie Gagnon posted the best Canadian score, finishing seventh with 48.10 points. Charlie Fontaine finished 11th with 42.66. Neither of the Canadian women advanced to the final.
Led by Liu Xuanchi and Chen Meiting, China won the gold and silver medals. Catherine Mceneany of the USA completed the podium.
The World Juniors are now over, and so is the 2022-2023 season for the Canadian aerials skiers.
“We were excited to be competing in Austria. It had been a long time! It was a long and difficult day. It was a great event overall, and although we would have liked to see better results today, we had a great week,” concluded the coach.