Stanislav Kravchuk of the Ukraine secured the first World Cup aerials win of his career, while China’s Nina Li outdueled Australian veteran and current World Cup leader Jacqui Cooper for the win Friday night in chilly and breezy conditions at the Visa Freestyle International.
Two U.S. Ski Teamers made the 12-jumper women's final, and Emily Cook nailed a full double-full to seize the early lead. Only Li, Cooper and China’s Shuang Cheng could best Cook’s two-jump combined score as she finished fourth for her best result since finishing third in March 2006 at Apex, B.C.
“I’m happy to be back up there in the mix again,” said Cook, who battled a bad back last season and took part in just three competitions. Cook’s teammate Jana Lindsey finished ninth for her best result this season.
Dylan Ferguson’s 11th-place result in the first finals showing of his career was the best the U.S. men could do Friday night.
DEER VALLEY, Utah — Stanislav Kravchuk of the Ukraine secured the first World Cup aerials win of his career, while China’s Nina Li outdueled Australian veteran and current World Cup leader Jacqui Cooper for the win Friday night in chilly and breezy conditions at the Visa Freestyle International.
Li, third in the World Cup standings this season, posted the top qualifying score and was the last jumper in the finals. She soared off the No. 2 kicker in the final, threw a back full-double-full — one of the most difficult jumps in the competition — and skied off with the highest score of the night, 100.99.
That was barely enough to hold off Cooper, the 17-year aerials veteran who still throws the most difficult trick in the women’s game, a triple-twisting lay-full-full with a 3.8 degree of difficulty. What kept Cooper from topping the podium for a fourth time this season was a bobbled landing; she in fact threw her arms out to the side almost like outriggers to keep from falling.
“I did a really good job to actually hang on to the landing as well as I did because it was a bit nuts; I was stretching [to land it] and it wasn’t a great jump but it was OK,” said Cooper, who nonetheless retained her World Cup overall lead.
Asked why she continues to hurl her 35-year-old body down the aerials track, Cooper responded that “aerials is the biggest part of who I am and I’m not ready to let go.”
“It’s addictive, like a drug,” she said. “My soul craves this. I absolutely love it.”
Two U.S. Ski Teamers made the 12-jumper final, and Emily Cook nailed a full double-full to seize the early lead. Only Li, Cooper and China’s Shuang Cheng could best Cook’s two-jump combined score as she finished fourth for her best result since finishing third in March 2006 at Apex, B.C.
“I’m happy to be back up there in the mix again,” said Cook, who battled a bad back last season and took part in just three competitions. “For me it’s all about consistency right now, being in the gate every week, competing the tricks that are going to be competitive every week and just putting in 100 percent every week.
“Every week we’re one step closer to Vancouver and being back on the podium.”
Cook’s teammate Jana Lindsey finished ninth for her best result this season.
“The women’s team is jumping well,” U.S. aerials head coach Matt Christensen said. “They’re really pushing each other again.”
Dylan Ferguson’s 11th-place result in the first finals showing of his career was the best the U.S. men could do Friday night. Asked what he was thinking at the start of his finals run, Ferguson answered honestly
“Land this jump, land this jump, land this jump,” he said. “It didn’t happen, but I went big and it was fun. … It is a big step for me.”
Christensen was excited for Ferguson’s breakthrough but disappointed that none of his other jumpers could qualify for finals on a night when a big score wasn’t necessary.
"First time you make finals is big. It’s really good,” Christensen said. “Any one of the guys on the team should have made finals tonight.
“It only took 99 points so that was a bit of a disappointment. They’ll wake up tomorrow when they see the results. It’ll either wake them up or it won’t. But it should.”
Kravchuk led after the qualifying round and stuck a lay double-full-full to win. Russia’s Vladimir Lebedev was second and Swiss Renato Ulrich was third. Canada’s Steve Omischl finished ninth to retain the World Cup overall lead.
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