- Freestyle Skiing
China sweeps Deer Valley aerials World Cup
World Champion Cheng Shuang led a Chinese sweep of the women’s aerials competition Friday in front of 8,000 rowdy fans at the FIS World Cup at Deer Valley in Park City, Utah. Olympian Anton Kushnir from Belarus took the win for the men, while American Jonathan Lillis landed a career best finish in fourth, and posted the best result for the U.S.
Lillis, who's yet to qualify for Sochi, was excited to compete in front of the hometown crowd. He went into the competition with the mentality of having nothing to lose.
"It's the Olympic year and...all you have to do is show what you have," said Lillis. "I find that when I go bigger and push harder, the results are better than if I try to stay safe, because you are just more motivated to do better."
Embedded owg_slideshow: Aerials World Cup: Deer Valley
2013-2014 has been a "breakthrough" year for Lillis, who's been doing aerials for seven years.
"This is my best result, with career highest scores all through the day."
He realized his final jump in the final four was "perfect," but Lillis knew what it meant to make it that far.
"To make it there is awesome."
Getting this far for Lillis will help him along his Road to Sochi. He has two more selection events to make Team USA.
"I'm learning to deal with the pressure now. It's a big confidence booster. It makes me feel like I'm that much closer to winning the next time I'm out there."
Dylan Ferguson, who missed the 2010 Olympics with an infection from an appendicitis surgery, finished in seventh. He's currently the number one ranked American aerialist.
"With so many rounds, you have to play it by ear what trick you’re going to do in each round," said Ferguson. "You might see what everybody else is doing and then sort of play it from there. You obviously want to qualify highest so you can see who is going to throw those big tricks in front of you."
Embedded owg_slideshow: Dylan Ferguson: from world champ to world traveler
Two-time Olympian Emily Cook was the only U.S. woman to advance to the finals and finished seventh, too. Ashley Caldwell, who competed in Vancouver alongside Cook as a 16-year-old, did not make it out of the qualification round; either did 2010 gold medalist Lydia Lassila of Australia. They finished 21st and 22nd, respectively.
The Chinese team took all four spots in the women's superfinal with Zhang Xin and Xu Mengtao finishing second and third.
Qi Guangpu of China and Alexei Grishin of Belarus rounded out the men’s podium.
Canada's Travis Gerrits, who was the World Cup leader heading into the event, finished in eighth place, and falling out of the top spot as points leader, handing the yellow bib off to Kushnir.
The final two aerials selection events are Tuesday, Jan. 14 in Val St. Come, Quebec, Canada and Saturday, Jan. 18 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Embedded video_content_type: Aerials: Anatomy of the Jump
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