WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Defending Olympic champion Han Xiaopeng of China and this year's top jumper, Anton Kushnir of Belarus, both fell in qualifying Monday and failed to make the final in men's aerials.
Jia Zongyang of China will jump last in Thursday night's finals, after finishing first in qualifying with a score of 242.52.
Jia, who is only 18 and has competed in just six World Cup events is ranked third in the world.
Kushnir has won four times this season, but fell on his second jump of qualifying at Cypress Mountain to drop out of the top 12. Han also fell on his second jump to finish 21st.
"I was very surprised because Anton has been very steady with his performance and his jump was very beautiful," Jia said.
"It's unfortunate that we're a little bit behind in the medal count but this is the time for me to be a little bit selfish and worry about me and not what the other athletes are doing," Shouldice said after qualifying sixth. "Right now, I'm just trying to do my job and so far I've done a pretty good job at it."
The host nation's strong showing was good news on a day when the Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Chris Rudge had to concede his country will not fulfill its goal of winning the medal count at the Olympics, a target many years and millions of dollars in the making.
Canada has three chances to improve its standing in men's aerials.
Omischl, a four-time World Cup champion, was the dominant aerials skier from 2006-09 but a mild concussion set his training back coming into the games. He landed two solid jumps on a frosty, clear night in Cypress to score 233.88 and finish eighth.
"In the final, the strategy is, take it a step up and go for it," he said. "I'm not just trying to land a jump. I'm trying to land a beautiful jump. These guys are the best in the world for a reason. To be competitive with them, I need to take a step up."
Nissen and Shouldice finished fifth and sixth at the 2006 Olympics and have stayed in the world's top 10 through much of the past four years.
"We try to peak at the Olympics and we've done a great job in semifinals and hopefully we can step up and do a little better and get on the podium in finals," Shouldice said.
Ryan St. Onge of the United States, the 2009 world champion, has had a series of bad finishes this season and came into the Olympics ranked 28th. He kept his skis arrow straight, his hands tucked into his body and hit both his landings perfectly on Monday to finish second in qualifying.
"I don't believe I've had a bad season so far," St. Onge said. "I've made the best jumps of my life, ever. They all happened in training and I really have underperformed in contests but they were very small mistakes."
St. Onge's American teammate Jeret Peterson qualified without trying his signature jump, known as "Hurricane," which packs five twists inside three flips.
"It's definitely going to be a challenge," Peterson said. "I don't have to (land it) but I want to, that's just my personality. Go big or go home, baby."
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