Men’s aerials preview: China against Belarus
KRASNAYA POLYANA - An experienced Belorussian team led by Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games champion Alexei Grishin (BLR) will look to emulate the medal performance of countrywoman Alla Tsuper and upset China when the aerials competition starts at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on Monday, 17th February 2014.
The threat posed by an aerials team from Belarus, with 12 Olympic Games starts spread among its athletes, is a significant one, even considering the fact that Vancouver 2010 bronze medallist Liu Zhongqing (CHN) and 2013 world champion Qi Guangpu (CHN) finished first and second on the 2013/14 world cup aerials tour, in which Chinese athletes made the podium at every event.
Grishin comes into Sochi 2014 ranked fourth in the world, and his results have been on a steady upswing since his return to the world cup circuit in 2013.
He sat out for nearly three years following his Vancouver 2010 victory but, with two podiums in his past three events, he appears to be back in form and peaking at just the right time to defend his Olympic crown.
Grishin’s teammate, Anton Kushnir (BLR), finished just ahead of him in the 2013/14 FIS World Cup season, taking one victory and a second over the course of the five events. Dmitri Dashinski, the third-ranked man on the Belorussian team, also comes into Sochi 2014 on a high, having scored his best result in more than a year when fourth at the last event of the season at Lake Placid.
Like Grishin, Dashinski is the veteran of four previous Games. And, also like Grishin, Dashinski owns two Olympic Games medals - a bronze from Nagano 1998 and a silver from Torino 2006.
With Dashinski, Grishini, Kushnir and Denis Osipau, third in the 2013 Olympic Games test event, all flying, the red and green flag of Belarus will be hard to hold out.
A Chinese aerials team that has been so dominant over several world cup seasons will need some exceptional performances to show that strength on their sport's biggest stage.