Cooper locks up WC aerials title; St. Onge podiums
INAWASHIRO, Japan — Australian Jacqui Cooper wrapped up the World Cup aerials overall title by winning her fifth event of the season Sunday.
Cooper scored 205.46 points to edge Alla Tsuper of Belarus, who was second with 203.73 points.
China's Nina Li was third with 192.28 points.
With her fifth victory of the season, Cooper wrapped up the overall aerials title. With two events left, Cooper has 620 points, 215 points ahead of second-placed Li.
Jana Lindsey was 10th to lead the U.S. Emily Cook was 11th and Jaime Myers 15th.
In the men's event, Anton Kushnir of Belarus received 249.31 points to win his first World Cup title of the season. Canada's Steve Omischl, who leads the overall standings, was second with 242.58 points.
American Ryan St. Onge stuck a double-full full full to vault from sixth in qualifying to take the bronze medal with 241.87 points.
It's St. Onge's best World Cup result since winning Dec. 9, 2006, at Jilin Beida Lake, China, in the season-opening aerial meet where he earned the fifth victory of his career. Scotty Bahrke was 10th, with Dylan Ferguson missing finals in 13th place.
"I jumped all morning and checked out the wind and didn't have any problems. Then I went down to the knoll to talk with [head coach] Matt [Christensen] and I couldn't believe the headwind. It was unbelievable. It was pretty scary," St. Onge said. "I asked Matt if this was what we'd been jumping in because I didn't feel any of it up top when I was jumping, and he said, 'Yup. It's been like this all morning.'
"I didn't worry about it then. I don't like change and if this is what I'd been jumping in, and I liked my jumps, then that was fine," he said.
After a disappointing performance a week earlier when he was 29th at Cypress Mountain, the 2010 Olympic venue near Vancouver, St. Onge was looking for a little redemption.
"Last week [at Cypress Mountain], my goal was to get comfortable on the Olympic site, but that didn't work out. So then I decided to get comfortable on next year's World Championships site, and this is great.
"One of my goals last year was to get some seconds and thirds. I've had five wins but no other podiums, so I wanted to fill that in a little. I didn't want to change the wins for a second or third, but now I have a third and I got rid of any mental block [about only victories], if I had one," he said.
Christensen added, "The placing is always nice. Podiums are good, but I'm so stoked about the way Ryan jumped. He got his mental game back this week. He was jumping like he did two years ago and that's just great to see. He has such incredible talent and if this confidence goes forward with him, well ... he could be a force again."
The freestyle tour moves next to Sierra Nevada, Spain, for a ski cross competition Saturday and then to Moscow for a downtown aerials contest March 1. In addition, Spindleruv Mlyn, Czech Republic, will host moguls and SX March 1-2.