FILE UNDER -- Freestyle

TORINO: Freestyle: Xiaopeng wins aerials gold; American Peterson 7th

TORINO: Freestyle: Xiaopeng wins aerials gold; American Peterson 7th{mosimage}SAUZE D’OULX, Italy – American Jaret ‘Speedy’ Peterson came all the way to Italy to do the ‘Hurricane’ and he caused the anticipated storm when it was unleashed.

Third after the first jump in the men’s aerials finals, he pulled out his signature triple back flip with five twists on his second jump, but he just barely touched a hand to the snow on landing, dropping him to seventh in the final standings.

‘I drug my right hand, so I threw my left one up hoping the judges wouldn’t see it, but they got me, so there’s nothing I can do about it’ said Peterson.

Xiaopeng Han from China opted for two jumps with relatively low degrees of difficult and he nailed them both to take the win with a score of 250.77. Dmitri Dashinski of Belarus, the second-ranked leaper on the World Cup and the leader after the first jump, took the silver with 248.68 points. Russian Vladimir Lebedev, the 30th-ranked aerialist on tour, earned the bronze. His score was 246.75.

Upon completing his first jump under the lights, a back-full-double-full-full, Peterson did the ‘Lambeau Leap’ over the fence into a group of friends. Before the second jump, discussion in the American sector of the full and enthusiastic grandstand revolved around, “Should he do it? Should he go for the ‘Hurricane’ or play it safe?” There was no question in Peterson’s mind, however.

On his second jump, Peterson soared 50 feet high in the air, spinning and twisting in a blur, and miraculously found his feet upon landing, but his balance was slightly back, causing him to lightly touch his hand.

‘I was going to do the Hurricane whether I was down 50 points or down 100. That’s what I planned to do. I know I didn’t walk away with a medal, although I’d have like to. I came here to win’ said Peterson.

But there also was some strategy involved in the decision. U.S. coach Jeff Wintersteen explained, ‘He’ll land five out of six, he does in water all the time. The degree of difficulty is appropriately rewarded, but this panel really likes landings. That’s what it came down to. We needed to up the difficulty to get the scores.’

But Wintersteen is still proud of Peterson’s effort. ‘He’s advancing the sport today. He did four quints today (three in practice). He over-rotated a little bit on his second jump and picked up the landing a little late. I’m disappointed. We had a good chance to win gold.’

It might have been easy to point the finger at the judges for not adequately rewarding the risk Peterson was taking, but Speedy saw no reason to be critical. ‘Our sport has had this system in place for quite a while and 99 times out of a 100 it’s right on, and today it was right on as well. Xiaopeng deserves to win and that’s why he has a gold medal around his neck. I’m very excited for him.’

Peterson added, ‘There can be only one winner, so I’m going to come away from here with my head up high knowing I gave it my best. More than anything I’m trying to push our sport to the max. I want everybody to be their best, to give it their all. Not everybody’s going to win, but if you give it your all, that’s all anybody can ask for.’

Han became China’s first Olympic gold medalist in freestyle skiing. ”I never thought this would happen – I’m overjoyed with such a win,” said Han. ”I feel like I’m in a dream.

”I was so happy to win the first gold medal for the Chinese team in the history on the snow.”

Han did not qualify for the final at Salt Lake City four years ago or at the 2003 and 2005 World Championships. The 22-year-old from Liaoyang has had three second-place finishes at World Cup events in the last two seasons and is third in the standings overall.

Han said he was physically suited to the event and promised big things in future.

”I think the men’s aerials is designed for China and I’m happy to be the one to make this a reality,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

XX Winter Games
Men’s aerials

1. Han Xiaopeng, China, (130.53, 120.24) 250.77.
2. Dmitri Dashinski, Belarus, (131.42, 117.26) 248.68.
3. Vladimir Lebedev, Russia, (120.65, 126.11) 246.76.
4. Alexei Grishin, Belarus, (123.90, 121.28) 245.18.
5. Kyle Nissen, Canada, (114.38, 130.53) 244.91.
6. Warren Shouldice, Canada, (123.45, 116.25) 239.70.
7. Jeret Peterson, Boise, Idaho, (124.78, 112.70) 237.48.
8. Anton Kushnir, Belarus, (124.56, 103.10) 227.66.
9. Evgeniy Brailovskiy, Russia, (110.01, 113.60) 223.61.
10. Renato Ulrich, Switzerland, (105.53, 99.22) 204.75.
11. Qiu Sen, China, (98.89, 87.67) 186.56.
12. Enver Ablaev, Ukraine, (61.79, 88.69) 150.48.

Judges: Timo Kanninen (AI), Finland; Franz Zimmermann (AI), Germany; Alberto Orsatti (AI), Italy; Tina Tanaka-Sundequist (AI), Japan; Sonny McKay (AI), United States; Olivier Grange (LA), France; Monique Clot (LA), Switzerland.

What do you think?


In-Depth Analysis:

Join Today!

RacerNext: Myland Training

Making torture personal In the pursuit of sport-specific conditioning.

Masters: Mount Hood Family Affair

The 29th Annual Summer Fun Nationals put kids against parents. Guess who won?

Frank Giffordโ€™s Gift to Ski Racing

How the late football-announcing great called the downhill, too.
Welcome to Skiracing.com's Mobile Site!