SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 14:  Bronze medalist Lydia Lassila of Australia celebrates after the flower ceremony for the Freestyle Skiing Ladies' Aerials Finals on day seven of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 14, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Olympic aerials champion sets first World Cup in 3 years

Leave a comment

Australian aerials gold medalist Lydia Lassila will compete at the top international stage this weekend for the first time since the Sochi Olympics.

Lassila, who took gold in Vancouver and bronze in Sochi, gave birth to her second son in February 2015 but never retired. She’s in Lake Placid, N.Y., for a World Cup competition Saturday (finals at 8:15 p.m. ET, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

“I was hoping that retirement feeling would come – but it kind of never did,” the 34-year-old Lassila said, according to the Australian Olympic Committee. “I’m realistic and have different expectations this time. I’d regret it if I didn’t try again.”

Lassila could become the second Australian to compete at five Winter Olympics after speed skater Colin Coates.

“Life is different now,” Lassila said in November, according to the (Melbourne) Herald Sun. “I’ve got a couple of kids instead of just one and we’re juggling different schedules.

“There’s quite a bit going on, but I’m going to have a crack at being an athlete again and see what we can do and just do what I can.”

Lassila upset the favored Chinese for gold at Vancouver 2010, coming back from two ACL tears in June 2005 and at the Torino Winter Games in February 2006.

She took bronze in Sochi behind Belarus gold medalist Alla Tsuper and Chinese silver medalist Xu Mengtao. Tsuper gave birth to her second child in 2015 and returned to training last year, according to Belarusian media.

Xu is tied atop this season’s World Cup standings with Australian Danielle Scott. Another Australian, Laura Peel, is the reigning world champion.

MORE: Hannah Kearney still dreams of Olympics in retirement

Ashley Caldwell wins World Cup aerials season title

Ashley Caldwell
USSA/Greg Heuer
Leave a comment

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Two-time U.S. Olympian Ashley Caldwell clinched her first overall title in the aerials skiing World Cup on Saturday at the final stop in Belarus.

Caldwell won with a score of 103.27 points, ensuring she finishes top of the overall standings for the season ahead of Australia’s Danielle Scott, who was second Saturday with 96.93.

Alexandra Ramanovskaya of Belarus was third on 80.33.

Alina Gridneva of Russia had a long-shot chance of winning the title but could only finish seventh Saturday.

The Minsk competition was not originally scheduled as the final round, but next week’s event in Spain was canceled due to warm temperatures.

Last season, Kiley McKinnon became the first U.S. woman since Nikki Stone in 1998 to take the World Cup aerials season title.

Caldwell finished 10th at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.

MORE: U.S. aerialists, elementary school classmates, sweep 2015 World Cup titles

Lais Souza, paralyzed Olympic gymnast, eyes Rio torch relay, attending Games

Lais Souza
Lais Souza's social media
Leave a comment

Lais Souza, a two-time Brazil Olympic gymnast paralyzed in a skiing accident on Jan. 27, 2014, said she will take part in the Rio Olympic torch relay and hopes to attend the Games in August.

Souza, 27, did interviews with Brazilian media including Globo and Universo Online ahead of the two-year anniversary of her recreational skiing crash after qualifying to take part in the Sochi 2014 Olympic aerials competition.

On Jan. 27, 2014, Souza suffered a broken neck and a spine injury after hitting a tree while skiing recreationally in Park City, Utah, not while training high-flying aerials maneuvers. The accident left her unable to move her arms and legs.

She has said she dreams of walking again and has a tattoo of a person in a wheelchair gradually standing up.

Souza said she will take part in the Olympic torch relay in São Paulo later this year and hopes to attend the Rio gymnastics competition and maybe the Opening Ceremony in August, according to Universo Online, but does not have tickets or an invitation.

MORE GYMNASTICS: ‘Grandma’ Aly Raisman and ‘baby’ Simone Biles

😘😍

A photo posted by Lais Souza (@lalikasouza) on