Aerials wins to Lassila & Kushnir in Lake Placid
The FIS Freestyle World Cup aerials season continued on Friday night in Lake Placid (USA). Although there is one more aerials event before the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, the Lake Placid competitions were the last Olympic qualifying opportunities.
In the ladies competition, Australia's Lydia Lassila recorded her second consecutive victory. The strong Chinese team rounded out the podium again, with Nina Li taking 2nd and Zhang Xin finishing 3rd.
On the men's side, overall leader Anton Kushnir of Belarus continued his incredible season to win the event. This made it two wins in a row and five podiums in five World Cup events this season. Behind Kushnir, Warren Shouldice of Canada clinched a berth on his second Olympic Games in dramatic fashion, landing his signature jump with a near-perfect score.
Ryan Blais of Canada joined teammate Shouldice on the podium in the third position. Unfortunately for Blais, despite achieving his first podium this year, he narrowly missed qualifying for the Olympic team, as he did in 2006. In the strong Canadian team the Olympic berths are hotly contested.
In the overall rankings, Kushnir leads with 440 points (out of 500 possible) ahead of the Chinese Jia and Qi. On the ladies side the Chinese have a three-fold lead with Nina Li in first position with 336 points ahead of Xinxin Guo in 2nd with 306 points and Mengtao Xu in 3rd with 278 points. Lassila ranks 4th.