Following his thrilling victory at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Belarus' Anton Kushnir seemed to simply disappear from the sport of aerials skiing. With nothing in the way of a retirement announcement on social media, a press release from his team, or a hint in an interview following the Games, all we were left with was the image of the explosive jumper with the shy grin clutching his gold medal on the Sochi podium and a whole lot of questions.
Fast forward to the 2016/17 season, and suddenly Belarus' golden boy was back on the World Cup circuit and seemingly better than ever, earning a victory in his first start in almost three full years, before going on to take two more wins in his next three events - including a victory at the test event for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games at Phoenix Park, Korea.
Despite only competing in four of the season's six events, Kushnir would finish the 2016/17 campaign ranked third overall with, we repeat, three victories in those four events.
Why Kushnir only competed in roughly half the season's competitions and whether or not he will even be back in 2017/18 remains a mystery. What is clear, however, is if he does elect to compete through to PyeongChang 2018, he will do so as a strong favourite to repeat as Olympic gold medallist.
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