Who is Ashley Caldwell?
Name: Ashley Caldwell
Country: United States
Sport: Freestyle Skiing
2016/17 FIS World Cup ranking: 10th
- 2017 World Championships gold medalist
- 2016 World Cup season champion
- 2-time Olympian (finished 10th in 2010 and 2014)
Caldwell was just 16 years old when she made her Olympic debut in 2010. She placed 10th in women's aerials in Vancouver that year, then replicated that result four years later in Sochi.
Fresh off a world title in 2017, Caldwell's ability to land triples puts her in contention for a gold medal at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
It's all about the triples for Caldwell. Whereas some aerial skiers might decide to play it safe and dial back their tricks, particularly in the earlier rounds, she'll attempt a triple on every jump. It's a bold "all-or-nothing" strategy that could earn her a victory or could knock her out of the competition early. Her biggest trick to-date is a quadruple-twisting triple backflip (also known as a "full, double full, full" or "The Daddy").
"I think that I'm super passionate about doing quadruple-twisting triple backflips because I love what I do," Caldwell says. "But I also realize that I want to inspire other girls to not just push the boundaries in aerials, but everywhere — not just in sport even. So I think that I'm trying to be that type of role model."
Although Caldwell first started skiing recreationally when she was 3, she didn't try freestyle skiing until about 10 years later. Instead, her primary athletic endeavor was gymnastics. But after watching the aerials competition during the 2006 Winter Olympics, Caldwell's mother suggested that she might be good at it. So she signed Caldwell up for a camp, and that assessment turned out to be correct. Thanks in part to her background as both a gymnast and a skier, Caldwell quickly picked up the sport and was competing at the Olympics in just a few short years.
Caldwell's past three seasons have been the best of her career. In 2015, she finished second (behind U.S. teammate Kiley McKinnon) in the World Cup rankings. And then in 2016, she won the World Cup title for the first time. Although inconsistent results kept her down in 10th place for the 2017 season, she rebounded by capturing a gold medal at the world championships.
During the 2017 season, Caldwell landed a trick called "The Daddy" — a triple flip with one twist in the first flip, two twists in the second flip, and one twist in the third flip. The biggest trick ever done in women's aerials, it had previously been used by Lydia Lassila at the last Olympics, but Caldwell was the first woman to land it cleanly. At the world championships, she used that trick on the final jump to claim the gold medal.
Off the snow
Caldwell enjoys a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, surfing, sailing and scuba diving. She also plays guitar when she's alone in her living room.
"Ashley Caldwell is progressing the sport more than any girl ever has. She's an amazing competitor, she's extremely hardworking, and to be able to be her teammate and train with her every day and room with her everywhere we go and be by her side is extremely motivating because she wants to be the best, and I want to be the best." — U.S. aerials teammate Kiley McKinnon on Ashley Caldwell