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Americans shut out of podium spots

January 19, 2018
By LOU REUTER - Senior Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Despite seeing five athletes get past the opening round in Friday's first World Cup aerials competition in Lake Placid, the Americans were shut out on the podium. But the good thing is that they'll have another shot at medaling today as the tour wraps up for the season and will soon head to the far east for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Australia's Lydia Lassila won gold in the women's contest and Zongyang Jia of China took the men's title in the first of two World Cup aerials events at the Olympic Ski Jump Complex.

The 36-year-old Lassila, a two-time Olympic medalist who will be appearing in her fifth winter games next month in South Korea, topped a field of 33 women who started the day. Hanna Huskova of Belarus won the silver and Lassila's Flying Kangaroos teammate Laura Peel claimed the women's silver.

Article Photos

China’s Zongyang Jia nails his landing on the jump that saw him clinch the gold medal in the men’s aerials World Cup on Friday.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

The men's field featured 36 competitors and Jia finished with the highest point total of the day, a 126.99 result, on the final jump of the event to take the gold. Oleksander Abramenko of Ukraine finished runner up and Canada's Oliver Rochon won soared to the bronze.

After winning Olympic gold in Vancouver in 2010 and following with a bronze in Sochi four years ago, Lassila has been focusing on her fifth trip to the Olympics next month, and Friday marked just her second World Cup competition of the season. Obviously, the veteran was happy with how the day turned out.

"I wasn't expecting this to be honest, with these younger girls doing some great triples out there," Lassila said. "I used to do that too and I have a huge respect for them to be out there. I'm backing down a bit in difficulty to protect my body. I'm a bit older than these younger kids out here, so it's important to for me to know how to manage my body so that I'm fresh kind of every day and can nail these jumps when it counts.

"I've only competed in one World Cup. I've taken the rest off," Lassila said. "This is my second one back, so it's good. It felt really good to nail a couple nice jumps and just keep building toward Pyeongchang. It's a big weekend having these back to back. It's about conserving energy - doing as little as possible and at the same time doing as well as possible."

Both the men's and women's competitions started off with a qualifying round, with the top 12 advancing to the first of two finals. From there, the highest six scoring aerialists moved into the last round where medals were determined.

United States aerialists were in a good spot entering the round of 12. On the women's side, Ashley Caldwell had the second highest score from qualifying, and headed into the next round ready to perform a jump with the highest degree of difficulty for the women. Unfortunately, the two-time Olympian didn't land cleanly and ultimately finished ninth. Caldwell's teammate, Morgan Northrop, was the other American to reach the women's round of 12 and placed seventh.

Mac Bohonnon, a Connecticut native who developed as an aerialist at the same venue and won a silver here a season ago, was also primed for a solid finish. He entered the round of 12 with the third-highest score, but misfortune struck on his second jump when he caught an edge on the kicker, which in turn, caused the 22-year-old to miss sticking his landing while finishing 12th.

"Jumping went really well tonight," Bohonnon said. "Unfortunately, I had an unlucky break with my ski catching an edge. I caught an edge really close to the top of the jump. My left ski wound up on the stair in the middle of the jump. I'm just happy I was able to land on my feet and make it down safely."

Despite the mishap, Bohonnon said competing in Lake Placid in front of family and friends who traveled here for the event made up for his rough outing. And besides, today's second event could provide Bohonnon and his U.S. teammates a shot at redemption.

"This is my favorite place to jump in the world," Bohonnon said with a grin. "If you ask anyone out here, we just came from Deer Valley - everyone talks in Deer Valley about it's prestige as a resort and and how amazing it is, and it is amazing, but this is unbeatable. It's always tough to not get the results you want, but this seems to be the one place that makes it OK. I'm super excited to be going back tomorrow. It's a new day."

In addition to Bohonnon, Alex Bowen and Johathon Lillis also reached the round of 12 for the U.S. Bowen placed 10th and Lillis finished 11th.

Today's World Cup action starts off with the women's qualification round slated for 2:40 p.m. with the men's qualifying beginning at 5:20 p.m. The final round of 12 is scheduled for 8 p.m. After the competition wraps up, there will be a medals ceremony followed by a fireworks display.



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