Deidra Dionne feels the pain every time she puts on her ski boots.
But the freestyle aerial specialist from Red Deer doesn't mind as long as she's winning World Cup medals, just like she did yesterday in Mont-Tremblant, Que. The 22-year-old somersaulted and twisted her way to the bronze medal on home turf, just weeks after having ankle surgery to remove some bone chips and scar tissue.
"This one is awesome because I had the surgery three weeks ago," said Dionne, who won Olympic bronze in 2002.
"I had a scope done in Banff and, to come back so quickly, we didn't even know if I'd be competing or not, so I was pretty happy."
Lydia Ierodiaconou of Australia was first with a two-jump score of 194.18, Nina Li of China was second with 186.36 and Dionne was third with 180.34.
The surgery was necessary due to several sprained ankles over the years, so after a pre-Christmas World Cup was canceled, she decided to leave training camp and get the joint taken care of.
"I decided to get this done and dealt with so that leading into these Olympic qualifying years, I'm not struggling with the same injury that I have been for a long time," said Dionne, who already has a silver medal this season from the Australia World Cup in September.
"Now I'm just waiting for the scabs to heal and I think it'll be close to ready. It doesn't hurt until I do up my boot and the buckle fits right over where they went in.
"It's kind of a good pain now, it's not getting any worse like it was last year."
She'll compete next weekend at Lake Placid, N.Y., where she suffered one of the sprains last year. Then the World Cup moves back to Canada for the Fernie, B.C., event Jan. 21-22. And, at this point in the season, every competition is huge when it comes to qualifying for the 2006 Winter Games.
"Every event works towards the Olympics, so you're trying to get as many good finishes as you can," said Dionne.
"I'm kind of at a point where I hope it's not about qualifying to go, it's about making sure that I'm ready to win once I'm there."
Veronika Bauer of Toronto was fifth with 168.91, Amber Peterson of Thunder Bay, Ont., 11th with a one-jump score of 78.90 and Melissa Prefontaine of Grande Prairie was 20th.
For the second straight day, it was a U.S. sweep on the men's podium. Saturday it was in moguls and yesterday, Ryan St-Onge scored an easy aerials win with a score of 242.32. Jeret Peterson was second with 232.73 and Joe Pack grabbed third with 226.95.
Steve Omischl of North Bay, Ont., was fifth, while Calgary's Warren Shouldice finished sixth with 220.27.
Ryan Snow of Calgary was 21st, Ryan Blais of Grande Prairie 25th, Kyle Nissen of Calgary 27th, Manuel Holden of North Bay 31st and Cord Spero of Grande Prairie 33rd.