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Thredbo disaster overshadows World Cup

August 1, 1997

MOUNT BULLER, Australia (AP) _ Nikki Stone of Westborough, Mass., and Nicolas Fontaine of Canada won season-opening World Cup freestyle events on a day when thoughts were with the 20 victims of a disaster at a nearby ski resort.

Australia’s team wore black armbands during Friday’s competition in tribute to those feared killed by a landslide Wednesday at Thredbo. Australia’s first-ever World Cup freestyle event continued with another aerials contest Saturday.

Fontaine dominated the men’s section, scoring 238.89 points to beat Matt Chojnacki of Aurora, Colo., with 235.18 and Canada’s Andy Capicik with 233.40.

Stone, the 1995 World Cup winner, was successful with a full-double-full routine for the first time.

Australian world champion Kirstie Marshall finished fourth but said she went into the event devastated by the Thredbo tragedy.

``It’s just so close to me,″ Marshall said. ``They are the people I muck around with _ it’s just so awful, I’ve hated it.″

Canadians Veronica Brenner (174.48) and Caroline Olivier (170.35) took the silver and bronze respectively.

Stone said she had attempted the triple somersault with four twists before but had never landed it.

Stone blamed her low world ranking of sixth on injuries suffered last season.

``Doctors told me I might never jump again,″ Stone said. ``Two discs in my back have never healed properly and two days of competition here is pretty tough for me.″

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