USA, Australia, and China looking strong for aerials world championship
Sierra Nevada, SPA - The rapid fire Freestyle Skiing start to the Sierra Nevada 2017 Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships continues right along on Friday evening, with the ladies and men of aerials set to send it high for world championships gold under the lights in Spain.
Soaring temperatures in Sierra Nevada have affected the aerials venue perhaps more than any other so far at these world championships, as shaping the precise geometry of the aerials jumps is a delicate operation at the best of times.
However, crews in Sierra Nevada have been pulling out all the stops to ensure the jumps don’t deteriorate, covering them during the days and constantly pumping dry ice below the surface to keep them cold, in form and ready for competition. And while there have been some delays and restructuring of the program during training, come competition time the jumps will be ready to host world championships-caliber action.
In fact, the aerials venue in Sierra Nevada has already been put through its paces, with qualifications on Thursday seeing some excellent jumping and some strong results for the US, Australian, and Chinese teams ahead of Friday’s finals.
US athletes lead the way in both the men’s and ladies’ sides, with Ashely Caldwell notching the biggest ladies’ score by stomping the only triple flip of the evening - a full, full, full for 103.68 points - and Mac Bohonnon coming away from qualies with the top men’s score after nailing a full, double full, full, for 124.34 points.
However, the slate is wiped clean come time for finals tomorrow, and the battle for 2017 world championships title will be fierce, with nearly all the top competitors making it through qualifications and into tomorrow’s competition.
On the ladies’ side, this means the stacked Australian team will be bringing numbers to the party, with all four of their athletes making it through to finals from the first round of qualification (top 6), lead by reigning world champion Laura Peel.
Though the 2016/17 World Cup season wasn’t Peel’s best, she comes into Sierra Nevada hot on the heels of her lone podium on the season, and appears to be peaking just in time for Friday’s competition.
Also to watch out for is 2013 world champion and this season’s crystal globe winner Mentao Xu (CHN), Peel's teammates Danielle Scott and Lydia Lassila (AUS), and 18-year-old Russian standout Liubov Nikitina.
Over on the men’s side, it was team China putting three athletes through to the finals in the top-6, with two-time reigning world champion Qi Guangpu leading the way for that squad with second place in qualification. Qi scored no lower than runner-up in any competition he entered this year, and the rest of the men’s field will be in tough to take his throne tomorrow.
However, there are some big time performers set to try and do just that, including Qi’s teammates Zhou Hang and Jia Zongyang, 2015 world championships bronze medallist Maxim Gustik (BLR), and Sochi 2014 silver medalist David Morris (AUS).
Action in the Sierra Nevada aerials world championship competition gets underway on Friday night at 19:30 CET, and competition will feature a three jump final format that will begin with a field of 12 men and 12 ladies that will be whittled down to nine athletes for jump two, and finally to just six skiers in one jump super final.