Hanna Huskova made it through the three-round aerials final to secure the gold medal. Here’s how she finished ahead of China’s stable of favorites.
Unlike other freestyle skiing events, you are only as good as your most recent jump in women’s aerials. The sport employs a three-round final that slowly eliminates the field down from the dozen who enter the final down to six for the medal round.
Hanna Huskova came out on top in two out of the three jumps, including the one that mattered most. The Belarussian veteran survived a windy day at Phoenix Park to claim gold. Huskova came out ahead of a pair of Chinese stars. That duo, however, did not include the defending Olympic silver medalist.
In the first jump, Huskova pulled out a Back Lay-Tuck-Full and stuck the landing to finish atop the table. Australia’s Laura Peel beat out American aerials skier Kiley McKinnon for the ninth spot in the nine-woman second round.
Once the second jump began, two Chinese stars separated themselves from the field. Each executing a Back Double Full-Full, Kong Fanyu and Zhang Xin took the top two spots heading into the final. Despite performing a Back Lay-Full that offered the lowest degree of difficulty, Madison Olsen of the United States managed to snatch the sixth and final spot into the medal round.
How did things shake out in the final aerials jump?
Olsen was up first as the final of six qualifiers. The American went for a harder trick on her jump, a Back Full-Double Full. She did not execute well, and finished sixth out of six.
Defending Olympic champion Alla Tsuper of Belarus fared little better. Tsuper, going for a Back Full-Full-Full. Though she tried the toughest trick anyone would attempt in the finals, Tsuper did not perform cleanly and suffered on the scoreboard.
Then came Huskova, jumping third. Pulling out a Back Lay-Full-Full, the Belarussian star nailed the trick and stuck the landing. She was rewarded with a 96.14 score. Once she set the benchmark, Huskova was forced to sit and wait through the final three aerials finalists.
MEDAL RESULT |Freestyle Skiing Women's Aerials
Laura Peel was unable to get Australia back to the podium in the event. Unable to cleanly perform her attempt at a Back Double Full-Full, Peel dropped in between Tsuper and Olsen into fifth.
Thanks to their one-two finish in the second round, Kong and Zhang had the benefit of jumping last. Knowing what score she had to beat, Zhang came within a single point of overtaking Huskova. The lower degree of difficulty on her Back Full-Double Full proved the difference. Similarly, Kong was unable to pass the Belarussian on her final jump.
China, always so dominant in women’s aerials, snatched silver and bronze. They were unable to wrest away the gold from Belarus, however. Tsuper was unable to successfully defend her crown, but Huskova was right there to step in for her compatriot and keep the national streak alive.