Lake Placid, NY – The U.S. Ski Team aerials athletes put on a show at the Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid on Saturday night to close out the Putnam Investments Freestyle Cup weekend. Ashley Caldwell (Ashburn, Va.) and Mac Bohonnon (Madison, Conn.) both landed on the podium, with Caldwell taking the win for the women and Bohonnon finishing second for the men.
The Lake Placid World Cup stop is extra special for the U.S. athletes because many of them got their start there as part of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s (USSA) Elite Aerial Development Program. Both Caldwell and Bohonnon were part of that program and have progressed to become two of the best jumpers on the U.S. team.
“Winning in Lake Placid is amazing,” said Caldwell. “I trained here for five years, so to come out here and show everyone that all that hard work I put in so many years ago is still paying off is a nice feeling.”
After squeaking through qualifications in the 10th spot (out of 12) Caldwell held the trump card in her pocket from the start of competition, as she was the only lady on hand prepared to throw triple jumps once things got serious in finals. Caldwell, who was the last jumper in the super final round, solidified her win with a full, full, full and a score of 99.63. This is the second time she’s won at Lake Placid, the first being in 2011 when she was just 17 years old.
“I love doing triples,” continued Caldwell. “It’s exhilarating, it’s difficult, it’s challenging, but ultimately it’s rewarding. After all the tough stuff I go through, nights like tonight make it all worth it.”
Caldwell was followed up by Danielle Scott of Australia, who qualified in the top position and jumped superbly throughout the night. Despite earning relatively higher scores than Caldwell for her big final jump, the lower degree of difficulty on Scott’s double full, full left her with a score of 92.00 and second place on the evening.
Scott did, however, earn one other important accolade, as she leaves Lake Placid with sole position of the yellow bib as aerials World Cup leader.
Third place on the night went to 18-year-old Russian Kristina Spiridonova, who earned her first World Cup podium in just her fifth World Cup competition.
Bohonnon, who won the men’s competition at the last event in Lake Placid in 2014, echoed Caldwell’s sentiments of winning on home turf.
“This is my favorite place in the world to jump,” said Bohonnon “I had so many friends and family make the trek up to watch the event. I felt at home, I felt comfortable. I was jumping really well all day. To be here in Lake Placid, in front of my family and friends, was so much fun.”
After qualifying with the highest score, Bohonnon went on to land two solid jumps in finals. His super final jump, a double full, full, full, scored a 119.46, just behind Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games gold medalist Anton Kushnir of Belarus, whose winning score was 120.36. It was Kushnir’s second victory in three events this season, after taking nearly three years off following the Games.
Kushnir progressed steadily throughout the evening, qualifying in ninth and coming out of the first final ranked second, before stepping up with all the pressure on and nailing a full, double full, full to earn the win.
“Man, I was surprised again tonight,” Kushnir said of his second victory of the season, “I just tried to prepare and focus on the next jump, next jump, next jump. Our plan was for me to be in good form by the end of the season and I’m not sure I’ve had the right feeling yet, but the memory (of how to jump) is still in my head and this is helping me.”
With his win, Kushnir also claimed the yellow World Cup leader’s bib, overtaking China’s Qi Guangpu, who was not in attendance at Lake Placid.
It was the fourth time Bohonnon and Caldwell have podiumed together at the same event – making yet another memory in the place where their aerials careers began.
“I was hoping to get that win so that Ashley and I could share a win together, but it’s exciting nonetheless,” said Bohonnon “We both got into this program here in Lake Placid back in 2008 and have been teammates ever since. Sharing a podium with any teammate is always fun, but with Ashley it is really special.”
The U.S. Ski Team ended the weekend with four podiums, two each, between the moguls and aerials competitions. The FIS Freestyle World Cup tour for moguls continues Jan. 21 in Val St. Côme, Quebec, Canada. Aerials is back in action Feb. 5 at the Visa Freestyle International at Deer Valley Resort, Utah.
(A complete photo gallery of the evening’s action follows the official results, below.)
FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup
Lake Placid, NY – Jan. 14, 2017
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