Grishin Wins Aerials Gold
CYPRESS MOUNTAIN, BC - After fog hampered TV cameras and attendee's view of last night's women's aerials event at Cypress Mountain, it was the men's chance tonight as skies cleared and the jumpers shot for the stars. American Jeret "Speedy" Peterson landed his signature hurricane to earn the silver medal. Gold went to Belarusian jumper Alexei Grishin who edged Peterson by just less than a full point. The bronze medal went to Lui Zhongqing.
Grishnir, who has seven World Cup career victories but only one podium this season, said his victory had not hit him yet.
"I still don't really feel it because I'm still a bit in shock," he said. "I was up there and said to myself, 'I have to do it'."
After a two-jump qualifying round Monday the field was narrowed down to the top 12. Each man had two more jumps tonight to rack up the most points.
Peterson, who has finished in the top ten of both of his previous Olympic appearances, came in with the highest degree of difficulty jump in the field, in his signature "hurricane." His first jump scored a 118.59 and landed him into the fifth position. He landed his second jump (five twists three flips) to take the lead with four jumpers to go. Grishin, the second to last competitor, was the only one who could bump him.
"I guess I lied," said Peterson, who had told reporters that he wouldn't be happy with anything less than gold."I'm ecstatic, I couldn't ask for anything more. I've done so many things in my life that have thrown me down and I feels good to finally do something that I can lift myself and my country and everybody up for."
"It's not so much about the medal, it's about everything that I have been able to overcome. It's what it represents to me," continued Peterson, who has had a checkered past, including an alchohl-fuled fist fight at the Torino Games. "Do I think it's awesome? You bet. I think when I hug my mom it's going to hit me."
The American team came into Vancouver without a World Cup podium on the season but will leave these Games with a silver medal.
Defending world champion, American Ryan St. Onge was the runner-up in last season's overall World Cup rankings but has had a slow season this year. His best finish came at the season-opening event where he secured an Olympic spot with a 13th-place result, but he has not returned to the top-15 since. He showed up tonight with two stellar jumps but it was too little too late for a podium result as landed in fourth place.
St. Onge, who had his best contest since winning the World Championships last season, was finally able to string together four solid jumps.
"It's great. I came out, I wanted to be solid, consistent," said St. Onge. "They were both solid and what I came here to do."
The only Canadian to come out of the first round of jumping with a shot at a medal was the countries lowest qualifier, Kyle Nissen. Both four-time World Cup champ Steve Omischl and Warren Shouldice missed the landings of their first jumps, an offense that all but showed them the door in such a competitive field.
With the best score in his first jump Nissen had the final word, keeping the crowed of more than 8,000 on the edge of their seats all night. A fault in his form cost him a podium position and he landed in the fifth position.
"You're always happy when you land a jump. When the euphoria wore off and I saw the replay, I didn't feel too good about my jump," said Nissen. "I thought I would be standing on the podium. I'm sorry I couldn't have given these guys a better show. This audience was amazing."
Every man in the field's chances improved at Monday's qualifying round when this season's World Cup overall title holder and favorite for the gold, Belarusian Anton Kushnir missed the landing off his second jump and failed to qualify for tonight's final.
Both American first-time Olympians Dylan Ferguson and Scotty Bahrke were eliminated in the qualifying round ending up with.
Contributed by Ski Racing