- Freestyle Skiing
Thirty-somethings soar above aerials young guns
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia - Extreme winter sports have so far been the domain of the young and hip at the Sochi Winter Games, but on Friday a trio of 'thirty-somethings' dominated the women's aerials event.
The International Olympic Committee hopes to win over a whole new generation of winter sports fans by including disciplines such as halfpipe, slopestyle and aerials.
But Alla Tsuper, a 34-year-old Belarusian athlete, showed that age was no barrier to winning gold when she flipped and twisted to the women's aerials title.
Tsuper conceded that she thought she might have missed her chance of gold four years ago.
"To be honest, I did feel a moment like that in Vancouver, when I made it to the final but I didn't win a medal, and I thought that was it," said Tsuper, who only returned to the sport in August following the birth of her daughter.
"I thought that maybe for me this was my final Olympics and I would never perform in the Games again. But then I had a break for two years, I had a daughter, and I was offered another chance."
The silver medal went to China's Xu Mengtao, who at 23 was nine years younger than Australian bronze medalist Lydia Lassila. The remaining finalist was 31-year-old Li Nina from China.
Lassila, the Vancouver Olympics champion, was delighted for Tsuper.
"I'm so happy for Alla, I really love this girl, she's a great competitor. She's been around for a long time, we've pretty much come up together," the Australian told reporters.
"She's had a lot to go through as well. We're both mums, we have that comparison now. I know what she's going through and I think she knows what I've gone through to be here and be the best we can be.
"She jumped her heart out all week and tonight, and she's so deserving of this medal," Lassila added.
After a week where medals rained down on the younger generation in snowboarding and freestyle skiing, Tsuper was asked why women of her age had dominated the aerials.
"We just know what we want, and we go forward to achieve it," she said with a knowing smile.
Best of Sochi
Women's Aerials Finals