Canadian freestyle skiing team loses equipment between Helsinki and Beijing

Canadian freestyle skiing team loses equipment between Helsinki and Beijing

MONTREAL — The Canadian freestyle skiing team had a nightmarish couple of days trying to get from one competition site to another. And the news was even worse when they arrived in China to see their bags and skis didn’t make it.

The Canadian squad was in Finland for the moguls World Cup last weekend and were supposed to leave Helsinki on Tuesday to get to Beijing for an aerials World Cup this weekend. But the Finnish airline Finnair had to cancel their planned flight due to a major snowstorm. A day later, the team ended up in Seoul, South Korea, before finally arriving in China early Thursday morning without their equipment.

“I had one bag with my clothes, but the whole team, and also the Swiss team who ended up getting the same flights as us, we all lost our ski bags,” said aerials specialist Olivier Rochon. “Because of the travel issues, we lost a day off and a day of training.”

Rochon was still on a bus for a four-hour drive between Beijing and the Secret Garden ski resort when he spoke by phone with The Canadian Press.

“Our coaches spoke with Finnair and got codes for an international search for our luggage. It is not a good sign. I believe this means that no one knows where they are.”

Rochon also mentioned that other national teams ended up stuck elsewhere in Europe due to a change of flights from Helsinki, according to messages Rochon exchanged with other skiers.

The good news for the Canadian team is that they still had two days to get their equipment back before the aerials competitions starting Dec. 16. As for the moguls team, their next World Cup competitions are on Dec. 21 and 22.

If they don’t get their skis back, the athletes will have to borrow them from their rivals, which has happened in the past, said Rochon.

“Each skier has different skis and setup,” explained Rochon. “I have one or two guys in mind if I have to ask someone with a similar setup. It has been done before. And I have enough experience to deal with that, but it is a last resort.

“The most important thing for us right now is to rest and deal with the jet lag.”

Alexis Bélanger-Champagne, The Canadian Press


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