Aerials World Cup to close out season in Minsk
Minsk, BLR - With the recent announcement that this season’s scheduled aerials World Cup finals in Sierra Nevada, Spain, had been cancelled with no possibility for a replacement, Minsk (BLR), became the de-facto World Cup finals for the second season in a row, with competition upcoming this Saturday in the Belarusian capital.
Last weekend’s aerials extravaganza in Moscow saw some impressive and unforeseen results, especially on the ladies’ side, where all three of the top athletes took their place on the podium for the first time in their careers.
With her win Saturday on home soil, Alina Gridneva (RUS) has moved herself into potential crystal globe territory, despite the victory being the first of her career.
Ashley Caldwell (USA) currently holds a 64-point lead over Danielle Scott (AUS) on the World Cup standings heading into the final event of the season, with Zhang Xin (CHN) sitting in third, 77 points back of Caldwell. Zhang, however, did not compete in Moscow last weekend, nor will she be in attendance in Minsk.
With Zhang out of the picture and Gridneva the longest of long-shots at nearly 100 points back, the 2015/16 FIS Freestyle Skiing fight for the aerials crystal globe has effectively become a two-horse race between the USA’s Caldwell and Australia’s Scott.
While last season’s crystal globe winner Mac Bohonnon (USA) stepped up to take his first victory of the season on the men’s side in Moscow, it is Oleksandr Abramenko (UKR) who continues to lead the men’s standings, helped along by his two-podium weekend in Deer Valley, USA, two weeks ago, and four-top five finishes in five events so far this season.
As with the ladies’ side, the men’s race for the crystal globe has also come down to just four athletes, with Abramenko sitting 39 points ahead of Qi Guangpu (CHN), 47 ahead Petr Medulich (RUS), and 69 in front of Maxim Gustik (BLR).
Also similar to the ladies’ side is the fact that one of the top challengers on the men's side (Qi Guangpu) did not compete in Moscow and is not on the start list at Minsk, meaning that it will be up to Medulich or Gustik to do their best to deny the veteran Abramenko his first career crystal globe this weekend.
On both the men’s and the ladies’ sides the chasing athletes will have their work cut out for them on Saturday, however, as both Caldwell and Abramenko come into Minsk as the reigning champions at the venue, both winning last season to close out the 2014/15 aerials World Cup.
With solid leads in the standings and history on their sides, all that’s left now for Caldwell and Abramenko to do is exhibit the type of quality jumping that they have shown all season. While in a sport that requires the focus and precision that does aerials this is often easier said than done, expect strong efforts from both athletes in their bids for the 2015/16 aerials crystal globes.
Highlights from last season's Minsk aerials World Cup