Gridneva and Bohonnon claim Moscow aerials victories
Moscow, RUS - The FIS Freestyle Skiing aerials World Cup took to the skies above Moscow on Saturday night, with the Alina Gridneva scoring her first career victory (and first podium) in the ladies competition to lead a two-podium night for the host Russians, while 2014/15 crystal globe winner Mac Bohonnon (USA) finally climbed back atop the podium after struggling through the first four events of the season.
The Moscow stop on the aerials circuit is a highlight on the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup tour, featuring a venue composed of a 43m tall scaffold-constructed ramp, light show, huge sound system, and concerts, making the stop one part aerials competition, one part rock show, and all parts fun.
Gridneva, whose previous best World Cup finish was fifth place earned at the 2015/16 season-opening contest in Beijing in December, nearly didn’t make it through to the finals at all on Saturday night, finishing qualifications in 10th place out of 12 qualifiers.
In final one she again skirted disaster, with her back full, full, landing her in the last spot of the top six moving her through to a super final where she would be pitted against the likes of World Cup leader Ashley Caldwell (USA), 2014/15 crystal globe winner Kiley McKinnon (USA), and rising Samantha Wells (NZL).
However, Saturday’s super final saw one of those situations that sometimes arises where cleanness surpasses degree of difficulty, as all three of Gridneva’s above-mentioned competitors failed to cleanly put down their more difficult jumps, and were forced to watch as Gridneva’s strong back lay, full, Zhanbota Aldabergenova’s (KAZ) full, full, and Madisen Olsen’s full, full, took spots 1-2-3 on the podium.
Incredibly, it was the first career World Cup podium result for all three of Saturday’s ladies, continuing a trend that has seen new talent enjoying success on the aerials World Cup circuit the past two seasons.
In men’s competition, Bohonnon led a strong night for a U.S. team that has seen some excellent 2015/16 results on the ladies’ side while the men have had their difficulties, as his teammate Jonathan Lillis followed him up with a second-place performance.
For Lillis, too, the Moscow podium was a career first.
Like eventual ladies’ winner Gridneva, Bohonnon came out of qualifications in 10th, but stepped his game up in final one, putting down a full, double full, full, that would send him through to the super final in third.
In the super final he took it up another notch, nailing a double full, full, full that was far-and-away the highest scoring jump of the evening, netting him a score of 124.43 that was more than eight points clear of the 116.37 that Lillis would earn for his full, double full, full.
Capping a strong night for the Russian squad on home soil was Ilya Burov, Saturday’s top qualifier who ended the night in third place. Burov jumped exceptionally well all evening in front of his boisterous home crowd, but his super final round double full, full, full, just wasn’t up to the standard that Bohonnon had set, and his score of 115.84 reflected that. Still, the 24-year-old was able to earn his first podium of the season on the site of his last podium performance, just under one year ago.
While he only managed a 13th-place result on the night (missing out on finals by one spot), the Ukraine’s Oleksandr Abremenko was able to hold on to top spot on the aerials World Cup, slightly extending his lead over Qi Guangpu (CHN), who did not compete in Moscow. Abremenko now has 265 points to Qi’s 226.
On the ladies’ side, Caldwell’s fifth-place performance helped her extend her World Cup lead on Danielle Scott (AUS), who finished 13th on the evening. Caldwell leads the standings with 309 points to Scott’s 245.
From here, the aerials tour moves on to Belarus for the World Cup finals next Saturday in Minsk, after the scheduled finale in Sierra Nevada (ESP) was cancelled last week due to a lack of snow.