Shuang Cheng and local hero Anton Kushnir won aerials finals in Minsk
Belarus’s Anton Kushnir pulled out all the stops to win big in front of a hometown crowd of about 2,000 at the FIS World Cup aerials finals today.
Kushnir landed two quadruple twisting, triple back flips to earn a total score of 256.31 in his country’s first-ever World Cup. He was joined on the podium by Ukraine’s Stanislav Kravchuk at 244.49 and Belorussian countryman Denis Osipau at 237.42. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko handed out the awards to the winning men.
World Champion Warren Shouldice (Calgary, Alta.) landed in ninth position after slapping back on his second jump and scoring a total of 206.77.
“I had a great first jump today, but I missed my takeoff on my second jump, probably because I subconsciously felt too fast,” said Shouldice. “Sure, I’m disappointed with today’s event, but overall this has been a dream season for me. My goal was to win Worlds and I achieved that. Plus, the second most important event for me was the Calgary World Cup, to win at home was amazing. In the big picture, I managed to do everything we set out to do this season and more. Now I’m looking forward to National Championships and a little time off to play hockey and slo-pitch before I start water training in August.”
Gerrits (CAN), who was sixth at the World Championships earlier this month, was honored with the FIS Aerials Rookie of the Year Award today.
“It’s definitely a step towards my ultimate goal of winning the Olympics,” said an excited Gerrits who added, “I am feeling really good about my jumping technically and my [degree of difficulty] is improving. My goal for the season was to make one World Cup final, in fact I made four, including Worlds, so I far surpassed my expectations and I couldn’t be happier with my season.”
In women’s aerial action, China retained its grip on the top spot with Shuang Cheng taking the gold today at 187.87 and securing the Crystal Globe as the overall leader for the season. Ashley Caldwell of the USA continued the momentum of her breakout season with a second-place finish at 183.96 and FIS Aerial female Rookie of the Year Fanyu Kong from China was third at 178.28.
Last season's Rookie of the Year Ashley Caldwell (Charleston, SC) rebounded from her injury last week to finish second, it was the second podium of her young career.
Caldwell, who did not compete last week in Moscow, Russia after a crash in training, came back strong for the final event of the season. She threw a full-full, followed by a full double full-full in the finals to score her second career World Cup podium having earned her first with a win in Lake Placid. Her jumps were clean and performed with technical precision, but her degree of difficulty was just below that of Cheng, allowing the Chinese aerialist to edge Caldwell for the win.
"This week was alot better than last week," said Caldwell. "I didn't end up competing, so I'm really happy to come back strong."
Saturday’s competition was the final World Cup aerials event of the season. Cook led the U.S. in the final standings in fifth with Caldwell eighth. Cheng topped the women's standings while fellow countryman Guangpu Qi won the men's.