Huskova defends ladies' aerials gold for Belarus
PyeongChang (KOR) - Belarus successfully defended the ladies aerials gold medal it won at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games but the name at the top of the leader board this time was Hanna Huskova.
Six-time Olympian and the Sochi 2014 gold medallist Alla Tsuper (BLR) could finish only fourth behind her teammate, whose gold also consigned China to the silver and bronze medals and another narrow miss for them in this event.
Huskova won with a final jump score of 96.14, edging out Zhang Xin (CHN), who scored a 95.52 to take silver, and Zhang's teammate Kong Fanyu (CHN), who secured bronze with a 70.14 score.
Of the six super finalists on Friday, only Huskova and Zhang were able to land their jumps in the medal event.
"I am obviously very happy, and currently have no words. Extremely happy and extremely grateful," Huskova said.
Huskova became the fourth athlete from Belarus to win Olympic gold in freestyle skiing, after Alla Tsuper (2014 ladies' aerials), Alexei Grishin (2010 men's aerials) and Anton Kushnir (2014 men's aerials).
China’s silver and bronze medals make it five times it has narrowly missed an Olympic gold medal in ladies' aerials.
Zhang's and Kong's medals mean China has won a total of seven medals in ladies' aerials at Olympic Winter Games, none of them gold.
“Our initial intention was to get the gold medal, so it’s regretful that we missed it,” Kong said.
Zhang said she wishes she had been able to give China the women’s aerial skiing gold medal it craves.
"It’s regretful that I missed it because of the slight error in my landing," the 32-year-old said. "I could have gotten this gold medal if I had landed better in the initial jump."
Zhang and bronze medallist Kong Fanyu gave China its sixth and seven medal in this event at the Winter Games.
While Huskova was in the box seat for gold, Tsuper "went for it" with an ambitious back-full-full-full jump with the highest degree of difficulty of the night, but it proved too much in the conditions and the jump scored a disappointing 59.94.
"I am done," said Tsuper, who will be retiring just short of her 39th birthday. "I did everything I could."
Silver medallist Zhang also plans to retire after the PyeongChang 2018 but said she would consider making a comeback for Beijing 2022.
"I'm over 30 years old and I will be too old to do this sport. But if China calls me, then I will also be glad to compete in the next Olympics," she said.