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

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future

Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

Getty Images
1 Comment

Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Adam Rippon opines on figure skating future