Marion Thénault runs away with aerials gold to open women's World Cup season
Canadian scores personal-best 99.05 to defeat 2022-23 overall season champion
Marion Thénault of Sherbrooke, Que., opened the aerials season with a convincing victory, scoring 99.05 on her second and final jump Sunday in Ruka, Finland.
Danielle Scott of Australia, who led after the first run, captured silver in the field of 12 (88.83) while Kazakhstan's Zhanbota Aldabergenova (85.36) earned bronze.
Charlie Fontaine of Lac-Beauport, Que., was 11th after not advancing to the second run. She scored 67.60 to begin the competition.
Thénault, who was also tops in the qualification round, noted it was not a perfect Sunday.
"Mentally, it was a bit harder than usual," she said of her third career win. "To put down that [second] jump in super finals when it mattered, I was proud of myself because I knew I could do it."
WATCH | Thénault dominates competition to win aerials gold in Finland:
The confidence gained from this performance will help Thénault in pushing the degree of difficulty with her jumps.
She takes the women's season leader's yellow bib into the next World Cup aerials stop Dec. 16-17 in Changchun, China.
Leading the World Cup standings means she belongs on the circuit, Thénault said, even though she admitted to "feeling like a kid out here."
"It also comes with pressure," the Canadian pointed out, "but I'm willing to take that pressure any day."
Last March, Thénault made good on her goal of a strong finish to the season and reaching the medal podium, picking up bronze at the World Cup Finals in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
It was the Canadian freestyle skier's fourth podium finish of the season and seventh of her career.
The 23-year-old Thénault finished third in last year's overall World Cup standings with 350 points, with Scott capturing the Crystal Globe trophy as overall season champion.
Thenault made her Olympic debut in Beijing in 2022, where she won bronze in mixed team aerials with Miha Fontaine and Lewis Irving, placing seventh in the women's event.
Irving of Quebec City was the top Canadian in men's aerials Sunday in sixth.
WATCH | Thénault among aerialists to know this World Cup season: