Aerials: Lassila, Kushnir win Lake Placid World Cup
LAKE PLACID, NY (Jan. 22) – Aerialists Lydia Lassila of Australia and Anton Kushnir of Belarus won their second World Cup events in as many competitions tonight under the lights at the Nature Valley Freestyle World Cup in Lake Placid, New York. Tonight’s competition was the penultimate World Cup event before the Vancouver Games, less than one month from now.
Defending World Cup champ Lassila, who won her first competition of the season last week in Deer Valley, was joined on the podium by Chinese jumpers Li Nina in second and Zhan Xin in third. Another Australian jumper, Bree Munro, was just off the podium with a career-high, fourth-place finish.
American Jana Lindsey led the North American women in eighth place just ahead of Canadian Amber Peterson in ninth and American Lacey Schnoor in 10th. Schnoor won the Olympic Trials on Christmas Eve to earn guaranteed spots on the Olympic team. Lindsey was assured one of six available Olympic berths after no other U.S. competitors could land a top-five finish to match her fourth-place finish at the season opener in Changchun, China.
“I'm frustrated with the team,” said U.S. aerials head coach Matt Christensen, of his team's lackluster performance at home. “I'm not mad or anything, the quality of jumps all week has been extremely high, the competition jumps have just been a big letdown.”
Li now leads in the overall World Cup aerials standings, 30 points ahead of teammate Guo Xinxin (15th today) in second, teammate Xu Mengtao (22nd today) stands third, 58 points behind Li. Lassila is 91 points of the leading pace in fourth.
American young gun Ashley Caldwell, 15, just missed the final round, finishing in 13th place. Teammate Emily Cook was forced to sit out her second competition in a row with a bruised heel. She initially injured the heel Jan. 10 at a World Cup competition in Calgary.
World Cup leader Kushnir is red hot thus far this season. The 25-year-old Belarusian has won three World Cups and hasn’t missed a podium yet through five competitions. Kushnir’s middle of the pack winning score, held up as three Canadian jumpers packed the top four. Warren Shouldice finished second, Ryan Blais took third and Kyle Nissen landed fourth as all three claimed their season-high results.
Defending World Cup champion, Canadian Steve Omischl, who competed in his first final in three weeks after sustaining a concussion while training for the Calgary World Cup, was back in action tonight with a ninth-place finish.
Only Jeret “Speedy” Peterson (10th), who earned an early ticket to Vancouver by winning the Olympic Trials, made it to the 12-man final round for the home team. Teammate Dylan Ferguson, who had been on a hot streak with two consecutive top-ten finishes, missed the final and landed in 17th place.
Fellow American and defending world champion Ryan St. Onge was 23rd and failed to reach his first finals of the season.
“He was perfect all week,” Christensen said. “It's been that way all season. That needs to change. We need to stick them like we have in training.”
The final U.S. freestyle skiing Olympic Team will be announced Jan. 26.
The aerialists will now head to Mont Gabriel, Canada for their final event (Jan. 30) before the Vancouver Games.
The Nature Valley Freestyle World Cup will continue Sunday with men’s and women’s ski cross races.
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