World Cup aerials action returns to Moscow for nighttime city event
MOSCOW, RUS – The second-to-last event of the aerials World Cup season takes place on Saturday, as the highest jumpers on snow will take to the skies over one of the world's great cities, with World Cup aerials competition once again returning to Moscow, Russia.
The Moscow event was a World Cup fixture from 2009 to 2012 (with a break in 2010 for the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games), and the giant scaffolding jump erected just outside the city centre at the Krylatskoye Sports Centre attracted crowds of well over 30,000 people at its peak.
This season, with Russian jumpers Ilya Burov, Pavel Krotov, and Veronika Kursunova all riding high in the aerials World Cup standing, interest from the Russian crowd should once again be high.
The aerials World Cup is seeing signs of a seas change this season, after several seasons of Chinese domination. As the 2014/15 season heads into Moscow we see US athlete Kiley McKinnon atop the ladies' World Cup standings – the first time in 17 years a US aerialist has been in that position.
Close behind McKinnon is two-time crystal globe winner and Voss 2013 world champion Xu Mengtao (CHN). However, Xu is will not be competing in Beijing and is unlikely to present at the aerials season finale in Minsk, meaning McKinnon may very well be on her way to the first aerials crystal globe for a US lady since Nikki Stone in 1998.
Another top Chinese athletes not attending Moscow will be Qi Guangpu. While Qi currently sits comfortably atop the aerials leader board with only two events to go in the season, his decision to miss Moscow may come back to haunt him, as there are two athletes within striking distance of stealing the title from him.
One is his teammate Zhou Hang (who will also not be competing) and the other is Mac Bohonnon (USA), who is coming off his first career World Cup victory in Lake Placid. Currently 129 points back of Qi with three straight podiums this season, Bohonnon should need only to continue his consistent ways in order to snare the first aerials crystal globe for a US man since Jeret “Speedy” Peterson topped the World Cup in 2005.
Things in Moscow get going on Thursday with the first official training session, followed by another training day on Friday and then World Cup aerials qualifications and finals under the lights on Saturday evening.