U.S. sweeps world titles in aerials

Leave a comment

American Ashley Caldwell and Jonathon Lillis swept the aerials titles at the world freestyle skiing championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain on Friday.

It marked the second-ever U.S. aerials sweep at a worlds after Nikki Stone and Trace Worthington accomplished the feat in 1995.

Caldwell, a two-time Olympian, added her first world title to a resume that already included six World Cup wins and the 2016 World Cup season title. She finished fourth at her previous two worlds appearances.

In the super final, Caldwell became the first woman to land a quadruple twisting triple flip known as “The Daddy,” carrying nine tenths more in difficulty than any other competitor. She scored 109.29 points to top Australian Danielle Scott (94.47) and China’s Xu Mengtao (91.65). Xu and Scott have been the top two aerialists this season.

“Today was only the third time I’ve ever even tried [the jump],” Caldwell said, according to the International Ski Federation (FIS). “Before dropping in I was just thinking to myself, ‘This is my third one, at least if I crash I was doing something big and ballsy.'”

Lillis, aiming for his first Olympics in PyeongChang, is a surprise world champion. He owns one World Cup podium result, a runner-up in February 2016, and finished seventh and 24th in his two previous worlds appearances.

Lillis scored 125.79 in the men’s super final Friday, edging China’s Qi Guangpu (120.36) and Australian David Morris (114.93). Like Caldwell, Lillis performed a quadruple twisting triple flip, but ordering his twists and flips differently.

Qi won the previous two world titles. Morris is the 2014 Olympic silver medalist.

The U.S.’ only Olympic aerials titles came in 1998, when Stone and Eric Bergoust swept golds in Nagano. The sport has been on the Olympic program since 1994.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. cross-country skiers mark most successful world champs

Mac Bohonnon, top U.S. aerials skier, crashes hard at World Cup (video)

Leave a comment

U.S. aerials skier Mac Bohonnon suffered no serious injuries after landing on his back with a sickening thud in a scary crash at a World Cup event in Moscow on Saturday.

Bohonnon, the 2015 World Cup season champion, lay motionless at the bottom of the landing area while people rushed to attend to him.

Bohonnon was looked at for three minutes before walking off with assistance.

A half-hour later, Bohonnon climbed on his own on top of a podium for the season-ending World Cup standings. Bohonnon finished second to two-time world champion Qi Guangpu of China.

Bohonnon is expected to travel to Spain on Sunday for the world championships, according to the U.S. Ski Team. That competition is Friday and Saturday.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: 18 U.S. Olympic hopefuls to watch for PyeongChang 2018

Olympic aerials champion sets first World Cup in 3 years

Getty Images
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