Chinese athletes swept the gold medals in aerials Saturday at the Freestyle World Championships as Nina Li took the women’s title before Xiaopeng Han added the men’s crown a short time later.
CHINESE ATHLETES swept the gold medals in aerials Saturday at the Freestyle World Championships as Nina Li took the women’s title before Xiaopeng Han added the men’s crown a short time later in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.
Li, the defending world champion and Olympic silver medalist, notched the fourth-highest score in his first jump in the finals round with 98.87 off a back-full double-full. She threw a back double-full-full the second time down to score 89.18 and win the gold with a combined effort of 188.05. Oly Slivets of Belarus took the silver, while qualification leader and World Cup overall champ Jacqui Cooper of Austrialia earned the bronze.
“I was the world champion in charge and I’m very happy to have been able to defend my title this year," Li said. "I felt really good today, this was a great day for China and I’m very happy for that.”
Slivets said, “I’m really excited about my result today. I worked really a lot for this result and for this season. It was good for Belarus because today we got two silver medals and a lot of people watched us on TV where the event was transmitted. In addition to that, my brother was able to compete in the men’s final, so it was kind of an exciting day for the whole family.”
Cooper admitted some disappointment. “Because of the good season I had this year, I hoped for something better,” she said. “We had a very tough competition today with hard conditions and I think I can be happy I was able to close the season without any injury or other problems.”
American Emily Cook, the only U.S. woman in the 12-skier final, finished sixth, having returned to jumping just a short time ago because of a back injury. “It’s been a long road but I finally feel like I’m progressing,” she said.
Han, the Olympic gold medalist from Torino, was fifth after the first jump in the finals but routed the field in the second jump, scoring 119.40 on a back-layout double-full-full to tally 240.86 points and beat Dmitri Dashinski of Belarus, who claimed silver, and Canada’s Steve Omischl with the bronze. Omischl, the reigning World Cup champ, struggled on his second jump in the finals, scoring just 111.47 on the same jump Han threw.
The winner said, “I won the Olympics the last year and today the World Championship. Because of that, I can just say that I’m very happy and the success of my teammates among the ladies is one more reason to be happy today. It was a great day for China!”
It was Dashinski’s second silver at the World Championships. “This season I decided to take it easy, also because we didn’t have a lot of chances to train on the snow because of the lack of snow we had in Europe this year,” he said. “I wasn’t able to do any podium finishes this year, so I think that was the right time to do my first seasonal podium.”
Omischl added, “This is my third straight podium at the World Championship and I think I can be satisfied with that. It’s a good way to end my season. I offered a good performance but today was China the one who deserved to be number one.”
Jeret Peterson, the only one of four U.S. jumpers to make the finals, settled for seventh place. Fourth after the first run of the finals, he attempted his super difficult “Hurricane" but scored just 102.65.
Peterson said he "just gave her too much on takeoff, and then I'm slapping back."
Peterson, who set World Cup records for a jump and two-jump score at Utah's Deer Valley Resort in January as he won in a snowstorm, added, "Conditions were excellent … and one of these days it'll click when I need it … maybe in Vancouver in 2010" at the next Olympics.
The dual moguls competition later Saturday concluded the competition.
World Championships freestyle aerials results
1. Xiaopeng Han, China, 240.86 points.
2. Dmitri Dashinski, Belarus, 236.42.
3. Steve Omischl, Canada, 235.81.
4. Vladimir Lebedev, Russia, 232.41.
5. Andreas Isoz, Switzerland, 230.50.
6. Dmitry Marushchak, Russia, 227.51.
7. Jeret Peterson, United States, 224.78.
8. Ales Valenta, Czech Republic, 213.50.
9. Jeff Bean, Canada, 210.16.
10. Enver Ablaev, Ukraine, 190.92.
1. Nina Li, China, 188.05.
2. Assoli Slivets, Belarus, 186.55.
3. Jacqui Cooper, Australia, 182.58.
4. Alla Tsuper, Belarus, 178.20.
5. Evelyne Leu, Switzerland, 172.86.
6. Emily Cook, United States, 167.05.
7. Veronika Bauer, Canada, 166.38.
8. Xinxin Guo, China, 163.69.
9. Anna Zukal, Russia, 155.84.
10. Elizabeth Gardner, Australia, 153.40.