Lassila and Jia cap first of two Lake Placid competitions with wins
Lake Placid (USA) - The first of this weekend’s back-to-back aerials World Cup competitions hit the jumps in Lake Placid (USA) on Friday night, with Vancouver 2010 Olympic gold medallist Lydia Lassila (AUS) showing that there’s still gas left in the tank yet with a hard-fought win, and Jia Zongyang (CHN) recapturing the World Cup leader’s bib and his status as potential Olympic gold medal favourite with his third win of the season.
Lassila’s standout performance on Friday night was a remarkable one for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that it came in only her second competition in 10 months. Returning to the aerials World Cup tour last weekend to make the Deer Valley event her first competitive jumping since last the Sierra Nevada 2017 world championships last March, Lassila appears to be quickly rounding into form ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Korea.
While in Deer Valley Lassila struggled somewhat to find her typically strong form, in Lake Placid on Friday she made few mistakes, making her way through to the super final with the second best marks in the first finals round, before putting down a precise double full, full, to earn herself a score of 99.75 with only top qualifier Xu Mengtao (CHN) left to jump behind her. When Xu crashed on her full, full, full final jump, Lassila would earn her fourth victory in seven competitions since making a comeback to the World Cup tour last year after three years of retirement.
“My gameplan was to just do my jumps, my way,” said Lassila following the awards ceremony, “I wasn’t doing the hardest jumps, but I knew I could execute them well and get into the high 90’s or maybe even break 100 here or there. We’ve got a long day again tomorrow so today I just took it one jump at a time and tried to conserve as much energy as possible in preparation for tomorrow as well.”
Second on the day went to Hanna Huskova (UKR), as the 25-year-old who won her first career World Cup competition at the season-opener in Secret Garden (CHN) this season continues to impress, competing in her fourth super-final in five competitions and earning her second season podium.
Capping off a huge day for the Australian team was a third-place result for Laura Peel, as the Kreischberg 2015 world champion earned her first podium of the season with a solid performance.
With her runner-up result Huskova jumped back into the World Cup lead as her see-saw battle with Xu continues. Huskova now has 311 points, putting her just six points clear of Xu with one competition left in the World Cup season. Kristina Spiridonova of Russia remains in third place with 211 points despite a 26th place result on Friday.
Jia jumps back into World Cup lead with third victory
Over on the men’s side of things, China’s Jia Zongyang reasserted his status as the most exciting aerials athlete on the men’s World Cup this season with an explosive performance in Friday night’s finals.
While he limped out of qualifications in eighth spot, Jia turned up the heat in the finals, putting down the highest scoring jump of the night in final number one with a double full, full, full, and then nearly matching that score in the super final with his contest-winning full, double full, full that earned him a score of 126.15 and the win.
The victory was Jia’s third in four competitions this season, as the 2012/13 aerials crystal globe winner has very clearly rediscovered his award-winning form after three seasons of struggles leading up to this one.
Second place for the men on Friday night went to Oleksandr Abramenko (UKR) in his second-straight competition of top-notch jumping. In any other contest Abramenko would have had a shot at the podium last week in Deer Valley, but an exceptional final by all of the men involved there meant that he was forced to miss the super final and settle for seventh. In day one at Lake Placid, however, he earned his just reward and his first podium in nearly two years.
Also earning his first podium in nearly two years was Olivier Rochon (CAN), as the 2011/12 aerials crystal globe winner was finally able to put it all together through an entire competition after struggling to put the landing gear down on some otherwise quality jumps earlier in the season.
With the win, Jia has jumped back into top spot on the men’s aerials World Cup leaderboard with 315 points, which puts him a commanding 60 points ahead of second overall Maxim Burov (RUS) and his score of 255 with just one event left to go in the season. Third overall currently belongs to Anton Kushnir (BLR), who has 240 points.
The final competition of the 2017/18 FIS Freestyle aerials World Cup season once again takes to Lake Placid’s jumps tomorrow, with qualifications beginning at 14:40 EST and finals getting underway at 20:00.
- Full ladies’ results
- Ladies’ aerials World Cup standings
- Full men’s results
- Men’s aerials World Cup standings
- Saturday Lake Placid programme
- Lake Placid data page (live scoring, results)