LAKE PLACID - Amazing, exciting and intense.
Those were some of the words that spectators used to describe the FIS Freestyle World Cup aerial competition that was held on Saturday night at the Olympic Jumping Complex.
Lake Placid was the second tour stop of the season for the FIS Freestyle World Cup, and the event featured a mogul competition on Thursday, Jan. 19 at Whiteface and then aerials on Friday, Jan. 20 and Saturday, Jan. 21.
Russia’s Timofei Slivets spins in the darkness during the men’s qualifying round in Saturday’s aerials event at the Jumpiong Complex in Lake Placid. He finished 11th among an international field of 30 athletes in the men’s contest.
Photo/Lou Reuter/Lakd Placid News
"It's amazing to watching them (the athletes) with the height of the jumps that they're doing," said Andy Haskin, of Barneveld. "It's beyond our wildest expectations. I think it's great watching them at night because you can see them against the sky; they really stand out."
With stadium lights on them, aerial athletes one at a time skied off a ramp, becoming airborne where they did flips, turns and rotations before landing on the snow covered hill and skiing to the bottom.
"Just being able to do those flips is amazing, but then for them to land so perfectly, that's what I thought was amazing," said Rose Katz, of Ballston Lake.
Those in the crowd, which was about 2,500 strong and consisted of all ages, cheered on the athletes by clapping, whistling, screaming and ringing cowbells.
"Being here in the crowd makes it a much more intense experience," said Chris Emerson, of Crofton, Maryland. "It just makes the jumps that more impressive as well as watching them stick the landings. When your here in person, you realize exactly how difficult the sport can really be."
Many of those the News spoke with said this was their first time seeing an aerial competition live.
"The TV doesn't do it justice that's for sure," Emerson said.
"It looks difficult when you watch it on TV, but when you see it in person, you realize how high they're going, how difficult it must be for them and how much training it must take," Katz said.
Cathy Brown, of Fort Drum, said seeing the competition live offers "perspective" on the sport.
"You get some perspective on how high they're jumping and where they start from," she said.
Some of the sport's best male and female athletes, who come from all over the world, competed against one another on Saturday in an effort of capture the night's top spots.
"It always feels best to be seeing the best in the world," said Mark Ross, of Fort Edward. "They brought their A game tonight."
Jillian Locke, of Lake Placid, who came out to the aerial competition "to support a local event," said she was rooting for the U.S. athletes such as Emily Cook and Dylan Ferguson.
Cook and Ferguson both finished in eight place that night.
The top finishers for the women were Mengtao Xu, who finished in first place, Shuang Cheng, in second, and Fanyu Kong, in third, all of whom are from China. For the men, Thomas Lambert and Renato Ulrich of Switzerland captured gold and silver respectively with Petr Medulich of Russia taking bronze.
Not even the cold temperatures, which were in the low negatives, could keep people from coming out to see and support these athletes.
"The turnout was great," said Jon Lundin, spokesperson for the Olympic Regional Development Authority. "There's always a good crowd for this event, despite the cold weather. This event has been coming to Lake Placid for 26 years, and for many this is the highlight of their winter season."
"Everybody looks like they're having a fun time. The cold doesn't seem to be bothering anyone," said Alicia Brindisi, of East Haddam, Conn.
"We're used to it, but it's definitely a little bit cold, but you know what, it's still worth it," Locke said.
"It's cold tonight, but it's well worth it," he said.
Contact Margaret Moran at 518-523-4401 or at firstname.lastname@example.org