(Lac-Beauport) The years go by, but are not necessarily the same for the national acrobatic aerials team, which is preparing to compete in the two stages of the Lac-Beauport World Cup, at the Le Relais Ski Center , Saturday and Sunday.
Almost a year ago to the day, Marion Thénault rose to first place in the World Cup rankings by winning the first of two stages contested at the Le Relais Ski Center and three of the Canadian jumpers had participated in the super-finals of the Quebec leg of the circuit in 2023.
Thénault is currently recovering from an injury and the men’s team only has one representative in the top-5 world, Alexandre Duchaine, fourth, who just scored a first career victory last week, at Deer Valley.
However, that does not mean that Canada is having a bad season on the World Cup circuit.
“We still have a young team. They’ve been on the World Cup circuit for two years, they don’t have the maturity of 10-year veterans, noted Rémi Bélanger, assistant to head coach Jeff Bean, at the foot of the track, Friday. They do not yet have the maturity we want for the 2026 Games. In 2026, we will have athletes who have the potential to find themselves on the podium every week. For now, they are still gaining a lot of experience.
At the end of the week, it will be interesting. Among the men, as much at the level of Miha Fontaine, Émile Nadeau, Alexandre Duchaine, or Lewis Irving, their degrees of difficulty and the quality of their jumps since we arrived here lead me to believe that they have chances of making podiums, at least finals.
Rémi Bélanger, assistant to the head coach of the Canadian team
“For the ladies, we have Marion who is recovering from an injury, but who is slowly regaining confidence and I think we are going to see a Marion on fire this weekend. We also have the young girls who are on the Next Gen team who have jumps with a level of difficulty that could allow them to make the finals. »
Nothing is decided for the crystal globe anyway. Duchaine, with the 100 points collected last week, is at 158 points, only 42 less than the leader, the Chinese Guangpu Qi. The Swiss Pirmin Werner (198) and the American Christopher Lillis (180) follow.
Nadeau, 71 points, ranks 10e rank. Irving is 12e at 66. Victor Primeau (21e42 points), Alec Haineault and Fontaine, 25e and 27e at 20 points, could all find themselves in contention for the crystal globe with a good weekend of competition.
Ditto for the ladies, where the first representative of the Unifolié — Thénault — is in third place with 122 points, behind Winter Vinecki (232) and the Australian Danielle Scott (200). Thénault, however, is still bothered by the injury suffered throughout the season and will not attempt any triple maneuvers this weekend. She noted that the crystal globe was no longer a goal for her this season. The other skier on the national team, Flavie Aumond, has decided to skip the season and is reassessing her future within the discipline.
Charlie Fontaine (NextGen) is 24e with 21 points, while Alexandra Montminy, of the Quebec team, collected nine points, for 28e rank, with a 22e place at the Ruka stage, in Finland, at the very start of the season. Both athletes will attempt to add to that total this weekend.
Fontaine, bronze medalist in the team event at the Beijing Olympic Games alongside Thénaut and Irving, is counting on the Lac-Beauport stage to relaunch his season. He decided to skip the Deer Valley competition in order to maximize his training for the remainder of the schedule.
“I had knee problems last summer, but it’s finally behind me. I still decided not to do the last World Cup in Deer Valley in order to be at the top this weekend.
I’m going all out for both stages. I do my jumps at a high level of difficulty: triple back, quadruple twist. I take the risk. It’s always a risk: you can go 100% and it can go badly. But I think that risk is the best way to be happy at the end of the day. You have to go all out.
As there are no World Championships or Olympic Games this season, it was the ideal time to promote training for competition, he believes.
“It was now or never to skip some competitions and train more. Yes, I may have lost a place in the standings and am now wearing bib no. 23, but I’m saving that for the future. It was the best decision to make this year. (…) My goal this year was to be more confident with my jumps, not necessarily a place in the rankings. »
There are 51 athletes from Austria, Switzerland, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the United States, Australia, China, the Czech Republic and Canada who will take part in the two days of competition this weekend.
After the two stages in Lac-Beauport, only the two World Cup competitions held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, will remain to decide the rankings.