Huskova and Jia kick off the aerials World Cup season with big wins in Secret Garden
Secret Garden (CHN) - The aerials World Cup 2017/2018 season finally kicked off on Saturday in Secret Garden with Hanna Huskowa (BLR) and Jia Zongyang (CHN) taking top spots in an exciting competition staged at the future 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games venues.
While it is always good to see a new venue join the Freestyle World Cup circuit, Saturday’s event was indeed very special, providing a little taste to what we can expect in just a little over four years time at the 2022 Games.
And, with the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games slated to take place in February, the anticipation was high for each of 26 ladies and 32 men entered in Saturday’s competition, with everyone looking to begin the season on a high note.
Despite some challenging conditions, with a temperature reaching down to minus 20 degrees Celsius and some unpredictable winds gusts, the athletes were ready to put their best jumps and fire up the Chinese crowd that came to cheer on their local heroes. And no one who came to watch the show would leave the venue disappointed.
Huskova grabs her career’s first World Cup victory.
In the ladies’ competition it was 25-year-old Hanna Huskova with a surprising and inspired performance, outjumping all the main contenders to take her very-first World Cup win. And while Huskova did not show the most technical tricks on the day - going for a back lay-full in the big final, her tactic and execution though let her top the pack and finish the competition with the yellow World Cup leader bib.
“I feel very happy now,” said Huskova after the award ceremony. “I’ve only been on the World Cup podium once before, so now taking the first place means a great deal to me. I don’t really understand yet what has just happened, but it feels like one of the best days in my life.”
Second place went to the last year’s aerials World Cup winner Xu Mengtao (CHN). Rounding out the podium in third was Ashley Caldwell (USA) - the only lady attempting triple flipping jumps on the day.
Despite having some difficulties in their landings, both Xu and Caldwell looked very sharp on Saturday, making a statement that they will be the ones to watch not only in tomorrow’s team event, but throughout the whole season leading up to the pinnacle event in February.
Jia makes a solid come-back on top of the podium.
After more than four years since his last World Cup victory back in 2013 in Lake Placid, Jia Zongyang stomped his back full, double full, full perfectly and left no doubt who was the best male athlete on the day, and the local crowd went wild to see one of their favourites taking top position.
“It’s been a long time since I last stood on the World Cup podium,” echoed Jia during the press conference. “To win again and especially here in China feels amazing and it’s a big confidence boost ahead of next competitions.”
Jia looked like the competitor he was back in 2012/13 when he took the aerials crystal globe, boosting with confidence, composure and consistency. Along with his teammates Qi Guangpu, who finished the competition just off the podium on fourth, and Xu Mengtao on the ladies’ side, the Chinese look to be gearing up to dominate the team aerials competition on Sunday.
Second place for the men went to Maxim Gustik, the veteran from Belarus who would make his ninth trip World Cup podium on Friday, while Canada’s Lewis Irving finished the competition in third place for the first podium of his career.
The aerials World Cup action in Secret Garden continues on Sunday with the team event, which is slated to go down at 13:30 local time. The qualifications for the event are scheduled for the morning hours.
- Ladies' results
- Ladies' aerials World Cup ranking
- Men's results
- Men's aerials World Cup ranking
- Secret Garden aerials World Cup data page
- Secret Garden aerials World Cup program
- Photos (credit FIS Freestyle)
Competition Program (Sunday's team event)
9:05 - qualifications ladies
11:15 - qualifications men
13:30 - FINALS
TV Broadcast Schedule (Sunday's team event)
Australia/Asia - Eurosport
Belarus - Belarus 5
China - CCTV 5
France/Belgium/Luxembourg/Portugal - SFR3
Kazakhstan - Qazsport
USA - live-streaming on nbcsports.com