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    Wednesday, February 18, 1998

    U.S. grounds Canuck air attack

    By CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun
      IIZUNA KOGEN -- Eric Bergoust once worshipped Canadian aerial freestylers, sleeping on the ground in Calgary in 1988 to watch his idol, Lloyd Langlois.
     Last night, the Canadians had to bow to his near perfection.
     With his good-luck charm, a Langlois headband (given to him in Calgary) in his backpacket, Bergoust set a world record with his first jump. He then won gold while the Canadians, once the feared Air Force, crashed and burned, bringing up the rear of the 12-man field.
     Defending World Cup and world champion Nicolas Fontaine of Magog, Que., could do no better than 10th, Ottawa's Jeff Bean, an Olympic rookie, was 11th and Andy Capicik of Toronto, who had qualified third, was 12th.
     "This is a little hard," said Fontaine, who won the world championship here last year. "Especially after the worlds where we had seven medals and now we have nobody on the podium."
     Americans ruled yesterday. Nikki Stone won the women's gold while Veronica Brenner of Sharon, finished ninth.
     "Really, after my first jump, I thought the best I could do was a third. I was really happy with my first jump, I didn't think I could do it better," said Fontaine, who said he knew he was in tough when he heard Bergoust's score, 133.05 points out of a possible 133.5. That helped him to a new record, two-jump total of 255.64.
     "I've been having problems with the judges all week. I was disappointed with my score and I think it affected me on my second jump.
     "My coach was looking at me, saying don't think about it but some of the other skiers were telling me I got screwed on the points."
     Fontaine, who had been struggling with his landings all week, had a slapback at the completion of his second jump.
     "I was late rotating the first flip and that made me late on the two twists," he said. "I had no time to get ready for the landing."
     Bergoust presented the headband to Langlois when he retired at at World Cup event at Mont Tremblant last month and Langlois returned it to Bergoust with the note: "Keep the dream alive."