Massive Aerials World Cup at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest
It was a show to remember on 21st and 22nd December 2013, when FIS World Cup aerials action took to the sky in one of the most iconic stadiums in the world. In front of 40,000 cheering fans inside China’s Olympic Bird’s Nest Stadium, local hero Xin Zhang and Canada’s Travis Gerrits triumphed in the ladies’ and men’s events.
Presented by Audi, it was one of the biggest FIS Freestyle events ever, hosted at the Beijing National Stadium which staged the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games, along with a full roster of Olympic competitions.
In the ladies competition, the reigning aerials world powerhouse of China lived up to expectations when Xin Zhang took victory. Australia’s Lydia Lassila, who returned to competition last season after missing nearly three years following her Olympic gold medal in Vancouver 2010, settled for second, with Mengtao Xu in third and three-time world champion Nina Li in fourth (all CHN).
On the men’s side, Gerrits beat out three strong Chinese competitors by relegating Chao Wu to second place, reigning aerials overall champion Zongyang Jia to third, and reigning World Champion Guangpu Qi to fourth place. The victory was the first of Gerrits' career, surely carried out on the biggest stage he has seen to date.
It was the first event where the Olympic format was used. The top six advanced immediately from the first round of jumps., followed by another round for the remaining competitors which decides the next six who advance to create a top 12. Then the competition proceeds in a knock-out format where the field is whittled down to eight and then finally to four competitors who face-off in a super final. With none of the scores carried over, every jump can have huge rewards or consequences in this truly exciting format.
FIS Freestyle Skiing Coordinator Joseph Fitzgerald stated: “It all came together very well, with a great turn out of teams, an iconic setting and spectacular aerials performances. Together with the Freestyle Skiing Committee Chairman Chris Robinson, and Xiaojuan Yan, our Committee Member from China, we have been working on this plan to stage an aerials World Cup at the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, which became reality thanks to her hard work. We were extremely pleased with the project and hope to continue this exciting event in future.”
With a musical performance, the unveiling of the new Audi SQ5, and top level aerials on display, the Beijing World Cup weekend was a show to remember.
To see pictures of the event, visit the FIS Freestyle gallery on Facebook.
Video highlights of the event can be found here.