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Freestyle skiing: French go from hero to zero

By Jack Tarrant

By Jack Tarrant

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Four years ago in Sochi, Canada’s Brady Leman crashed out in the men’s Olympic ski cross final, leaving the three French skiers alongside him to cruise to a podium clean-sweep.

This time around it was a completely different story as Leman exorcised his Sochi demons by winning gold and no French athletes made the final on Wednesday.

Sochi gold medalist Jean-Frederic Chapuis had insisted before the Games that the French were not a dominant force in ski cross, saying they just had a perfect day in the 2014 final.

In Pyeongchang, Chapuis finished last in his quarter-final, Sochi silver medalist Arnaud Bovolenta came sixth after losing out in the semis and Terence Tchiknavorian suffered a suspected shin fracture following a heavy fall in his heat.

Leman told reporters his victory was vindication for the Canadian program which he described as the best in the world, but Chapuis said it came down to little differences on the day.

“I am disappointed because I worked hard for four years to come here and give my best but today wasn’t my day,” the 2014 champion said. “It wasn’t France’s day but this is ski cross.”

Chapuis is already looking forward.

“I am going to go home, take some rest and then focus on the last races of the season to have revenge,” he said.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant, editing by Ed Osmond)