Freestyle

Caldwell and Lillis Sweep Aerials Gold at Worlds

by
USSA
2017-03-10 17:18
 

SIERRA NEVADA (Mar. 10, 2017) – If you would have told Ashley Caldwell (Ashburn, VA) and Jon Lillis (Rochester, NY) when they first met nine years ago, that they would win the World Championships together, they wouldn’t have believed you. But that’s exactly what happened Friday night at the 2017 FIS Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships where. Caldwell and Lillis stomped their quadruple twisting triple flips to land both the men’s and women’s titles.

Caldwell and Lillis’ golds are the first U.S. sweep at Worlds in 22 years. Caldwell’s gold is the first for the U.S. women’s team since Nikki Stone won in 1995, and Lillis’ is the first for the men’s team since Ryan St. Onge in 2009. Caldwell also made history by becoming the first woman ever to land a full, double full, full.

The night started out a bit shaky for Caldwell, who missed the landing on her first jump, a back layout followed by two flips and two twists. But once she knew she made it through to the next round, there was no looking back. She scored the highest in the second round with her full, full, full and landed the win with the full, double full, full and a score of 109.29.


Ashley Caldwell reacts to her win at the 2017 FIS Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships. (Getty Images/David Ramos)

“Doing the [full, double full, full] is scary, but part of me wants to say that’s why I do better,” said Caldwell “I’m more focused on the trick instead of the competition. That was only my third time doing that trick and I was just focusing on surviving.”

As usual, Caldwell was the only woman who competed triple flips the entire night. Although she’s struggled with consistency throughout the season, Caldwell was calm and focused in the final two rounds Friday night, putting the jumps to her feet and scoring a full 10 points above second place.

“I’ve put a lot of hard work in to try to be good at doing triples, and that means taking hits and risking more,” said Caldwell. “Sometimes it doesn’t work out and I forfeit good competition results because I miss a landing. To come out here and re-affirm that what I’m doing can work and is the right path is huge for me and my mental state going into the Olympics next year.”

Lillis’ victory was the first of his career and only his second major international podium. Like Caldwell, he struggled on his first jump, edging out teammate Mac Bohonnon (Madison, CT) to make it into the second round. He went on to post the highest scores in both the second and third finals, taking the win with a full, full, double full and a score of 125.79.

“I did what I needed to do tonight,” stated Lillis. “I’ve done that trick in super finals three times this year, and all the other times it’s been a bust. But tonight I hit my take off and did everything else right and was able to throw it down. The coaches called my plan from the beginning and we stuck to it. The plans we made today were perfect and they got us two gold medals.”


Jon Lillis and teammates celebrate his win. (Getty Images / David Ramos)

“This is the greatest end to the season that we could have possibly hoped for,” said Head Aerials Coach Todd Ossian. “This gives our whole team a ton of motivation going into the summer and the Olympic year.”

The U.S. team also advanced Kiley McKinnon (Madison, CT) and Madison Olsen (Park City, UT) to the super final. McKinnon landed just off the podium in fourth ahead of Olsen in fifth. Bohonnon finished 10th. Rounding out the women’s podium behind Caldwell were Australia’s Dani Scott in second and China’s Xu Mengtao in third. China’s Qi Guangpu took silver for the men and Australia’s David Morris took bronze.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ashley Caldwell and Jon Lillis swept aerials gold at the 2017 World Championships.
  • It was the first time since 1995 the U.S. has swept gold at World Champs.
  • Caldwell’s medal was the first women’s gold medal since Nikki Stone in 1995.
  • Lillis’ medal was the first men’s gold medal since Ryan St. Onge in 2009.
  • Caldwell won with a full, double full, full, scoring 109.29 and becoming the only woman to ever land that trick.
  • Lillis won with a full, full, double full and a score of 125.79.
  • The U.S. Ski Team advanced three women, including Caldwell, to the super final. Kiley McKinnon finished fourth and Madison Olsen fifth.
  • Mac Bohonnon finished 10th.
  • Australia’s Dani Scott was second and China’s Xu Mengtao was third for the women.
  • China’s Qi Guangpu took silver for the men and Australia’s David Morris took bronze.

 

QUOTES

Ashley Caldwell
Doing the full, double full, full is scary, but part of me wants to say that’s why I do better. I’m more focused on the trick instead of the competition. That was only my third time doing a the trick and I was just focusing on surviving.

I’ve put a lot of hard work in to try to be good at doing triples, and that means taking hits and risking more. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and I forfeit good competition results because I miss a landing. To come out here and re-affirm that what i’m doing can work and is the right path is huge for me and my mental state going into the Olympics next year.

[on winning with Lillis]
Jon and I were 13 years old when we started aerials. We’ve grown up together. For us both to be on the podium - I don’t want to say it’s unfathomable because we are both capable of it - but for it to work out like this is unreal.

Jon Lillis
I did what I needed to do tonight. I’ve done that trick in super finals three times this year, and all the other times it’s been a bust. But tonight I hit my take off and did everything else right and was able to throw it down. The coaches called my plan from the beginning and we stuck to it. The plans we made today were perfect and they got us two gold medals.

Having a gold World Championship medal really feels good going into next season. It’s a big confidence booster and let’s everyone know that you’re here to win. It shows that I am a contender for achieving the ultimate goal of gold at the Olympics next year.

Todd Ossian
We had a plan for what tricks we were going to do tonight and we 100 percent stuck to it. We just try to take it one jump at a time and focus on the process, and we did exactly that. This is the greatest end to the season that we could have possibly hoped for. This gives our whole team a ton of motivation going into the summer and the Olympic year.

 

RESULTS
Men’s Results
Women’s Results