Aerials World Cup set for Moscow city event
Moscow, RUS - After a huge week in Deer Valley, USA, saw back-to-back competitions held at the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic venue in front of massive crowds at the Visa Freestyle International, the men and ladies of the aerials World Cup tour have jumped back across the pond and landed in Moscow, where an as-big if not bigger show is set to take place this Saturday.
The second city event of the 2015/16 season, this season’s Moscow aerials World Cup will be the sixth time the Russian capital has hosted World Cup action dating back to the 2007/08 season. Featuring a regulation-sized aerials competition venue constructed out of scaffolding that stands 47 meters tall and finishes in an arena with seating for several thousand people, and boasts a sound and lighting set-up that one would expect from a stadium rock show, the Moscow event has proven over several seasons to be one of the most entertaining events on the FIS Freestyle skiing schedule.
Coming into Moscow it is Ashley Caldwell (USA) and Oleksandr Abremenko (UKR) leading the respective ladies’ and men’s aerials World Cup standings, based on strong performances from both athletes at last week’s Deer Valley competition.
Caldwell has three podiums in four events in 2015/16, with her third-place finish on home soil at the second Deer Valley competition keeping her just ahead of China’s Xin Zhang on the leaderboard, with 264 points to Zhang’s 232.
Zhang won that same competition, while Danielle Scott (AUS) placed second, giving the Aussie four straight top-5 finishes in 2015/16 and putting her just behind Zhang with 225 points on the year.
As suggested by the standings, Abramenko has been far and away the most consistent man in aerials in 2015/16, with three straight podiums and a fifth-place finish in the season’s four events. In Deer Valley he did not miss a jump through the two competitions, and the 10-year World Cup veteran now wears the yellow aerials leader’s bib for the first time in his career.
He’s followed closely in the standings by China’s Qi Guangpu. While Qi has two victories on the season, he also has two 18th place finishes, and the reigning world champion will have to work on his consistency if he wants to avoid finishing the season in second overall for the fourth straight season.
The host Russian squad will be well represented in Moscow, with 18-year-old Alexandra Orlova currently sitting in fifth on the aerials World Cup leaderboard after earning her first career World Cup podium at the first of the two Deer Valley competitions. Orlova has shown excellent form this season after missing all of the 2014/15 campaign, and is just one of several Russian jumpers who are making their mark amongst the world’s elite this season.
Another one of those athletes is Petr Medulich, who currently sits third overall on the men’s side. Medulich claimed his first World Cup victory in Deer Valley, to go along with a second-place result from Beijing in the first competition of the season. Between Orlova, Medulich, Liubov Nikitina, and Ilya Burov, the Russians will have a strong shot at making a podium on home soil.
All the action in Moscow takes place this Saturday, Feb 13, with qualifications beginning at 14:05 local time, followed by finals under the lights at 19:00.