With a podium in only her second ever World Cup start - a 3rd on home soil at Beida Lake, CHN - current World Champion Mengtao Xu has made it clear from the early going that hers is a special talent.
The leader of the powerhouse Chinese aerials team, Mengtao built quickly on her initial success, working through brief patches of inconsistency to reach a point where, now, the 2012-13 ladies' Freestyle overall Crystal Globe winner is essentially a lock to reach the podium in nearly every competition she enters.
Since a 7th place finish in the 2009-10 season, Mengtao has gone on a astonishing run that has seen her standing on the podium in 18 consecutive World Cup events, with 11 wins, four runner-up, and two 3rd-place finishes claimed during that period. In 34 career events, Mengtao has been on the podium 24 times. It's impressive stuff.
Add to that the above-mentioned World Championships gold from Voss in 2013, two World Championship silver medals (from Deer Valley in 2011 and Inawshiro in 2009), and her ever-growing collection of Crystal Globes, and you begin to get a portrait of an athlete at the top of her game.
Watch the always-smiling Mengtao take off from an aerials jump in real life, however, and you see poetry in motion - a technique that defines control and power. Hers is the only bag of tricks on the ladies' circuit that currently includes triple-flipping maneuvers performed off the largest of the aerials kickers. It's a distinction that definitively sets her apart from the rest of the field, as long as she sticks her landings.
Mengtao put on a strong performance at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games to claim the silver medal, with a minor mistake in her super final jump likely being the one thing that held her from gold.
|1608918.01.2014||Aerials||Lake Placid||USA||World Cup||4||500.00|
|1608514.01.2014||Aerials||Val St. Come||CAN||World Cup||10||260.00|
|1608110.01.2014||Aerials||Deer Valley||USA||World Cup||3||600.00|
|1605515.12.2013||Aerials||Beida Lake||CHN||World Cup||4||500.00|