McKinnon and Kushnir shine in Moscow
Moscow (RUS) - The first FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup competition in 2018 went down on Saturday evening with Kiley McKinnon (USA) and Anton Kushnir (BLR) shining under the lights at the third aerials event of the season, which took place on a 47-meter-tall scaffold ramp set up just outside Moscow’s city centre.
For the eighth time the moguls World Cup tour visited Moscow and once again the local organisers delivered a unique event. With several thousands spectators celebrating Russia’s Christmas Eve and cheering on the world's best athletes as they threw down huge tricks, it was a festive atmosphere indeed. And, with an impressive firework show to wrap up the action-packed day, the Moscow competition satisfied even the most demanding fans.
In the ladies' competition it was Killey McKinnon who worked her way through the qualification rounds and made it count when it mattered most. Qualifying from the sixth place into the big finals and dropping as the first athlete in the final round of jumps, the 22-year-old American went all in. McKinnon stomped her Full - Double Full for a score of 95.52 and the top spot on the day despite all the efforts from the rest of the ladies’ field.
With already several podiums on her account, McKinnon has finally reached the top of the World Cup podium, adding to a collection that includes the 2015 aerials crystal globe as well as the silver medal from the World Championships in Kreischberg, also from 2015.
“I’m so excited,” smiled McKinnon after the event. “I’ve been on my ups and downs and I just went out there doing the best I could and trying to have as much confidence in myself as possible. Making it to the top of the podium is something I’ve been looking for so I’m super happy now.”
Aliaksandra Ramanouskaya (BLR) finished the competition in second place by going with a triple flip in the final round, while Alexandra Orlova, representing the host nation of Russia, rounded out the podium in third for her second-ever World Cup top three finish.
With Xu Mengtao sitting out the Moscow’s competition, Hanna Husakova regained the aerials World Cup leader yellow bib, finishing the day just outside the podium on fourth. Similarly to her Belarusian teammate Ramanouskaya, Husakova also impressed with her triple flipping jumps in the finals. She now sits on top of the standing with 186 points, 20 points over the second Xu and more than 40 points over third-ranked Ramanouksaya.
Kushnir comes back on top of the podium in style
Over on the men’s side of event it was the Olympic Champion from Sochi 2014 Anton Kushnir (BLR), who capitalised on the fact that both Jia Zongyang and Qi Guangpu aka the 2017/2018 World Cup number one and two were absent in Russia. Outscoring a ‘result hungry’ Russian contingent who had their best day of aerials World Cup competition in recent history, Kushnir took a great win with a nearly flawless final jump to get back on top of the World Cup in style.
Sitting in third after the first final run, Kushnir stepped it up big time on his final jump, showcasing a textbook example of how a stomped Full - Double Full - Full should look to earn a score of 126.55 points and his 13th victory on his 60th World Cup start.
“It was a great day for me,” summed up Kushnir following the award ceremony. “My jumps looked good today and I’m happy with that, but on the other hand some teams and some really good guys were missing here in Russia. There’s still a lot of work to do before the Olympics so I’m looking forward to the next competition.”
The second place on the day went to the older of the Burov (RUS) brothers Ilia, who finished off the competition with a solid score of 125.79, while his 22-year-old up-and-comer teammate from Russian Freestyle Team Stanislav Nikitin wrapped up the competition on third, also for his second-ever World Cup top three finish.
In the aerials World Cup ranking it's sill Jia Zongayng who is on top with 200 points for his double victory in Secret Garden, with Kushnir now moving to the second place with 164 points and his fellow teammate Maxim Gustik sitting behind on third with 150 points.
The aerials World Cup action continues next week with the season’s fourth stop slated to take place in Deer Valley ski resort on Friday, January 12.