Ashley Caldwell (right) wears the yellow leader’s bib for the first time after winning the aerials World Cup opener in Beijing. (Ronnie Yan/FIS)
BEIJING, China (Dec. 19, 2015) – The American National Anthem rang loud and clear throughout Beijing’s Bird’s Nest after Ashley Caldwell (Ashburn, VA) laid down a solid triple twisting triple flip to win the FIS Freestyle aerials World Cup opener. Teammate Kiley McKinnon (Madison, CT) joined Caldwell on the podium in third.
Caldwell’s road to Beijing this season was not without its challenges. She missed some summer training due to a herniated a disk in her neck and resumed jumping on snow in November, but injured her knee just a few weeks ago. Coming in to Saturday’s competition, it was unclear if Caldwell would compete at her highest degree of difficulty.
“I competed with a full, full in qualifications and almost blew it,” said Caldwell. “I barely squeaked into finals, it was nerve-racking! I did one [a full, full, full] in training and almost didn’t get it. The one in finals was ok, I put it to my feet, but I have a lot of stuff to work on. After hurting my knee prior to coming to Beijing, I was only planning to compete with doubles, but I was doing well and I felt good, so the coaches thought it would be ok for me to go up and I did and it paid off.”
China's Xin Zhang (left), Ashley Caldwell and Kiley McKinnon stand on the podium in Beijing. (Ronnie Yan/FIS)
Issues with speed prevented the U.S. men from advancing anyone in to the finals. Eric Loughran (Pelham, NH), who stuck his lay double full, full but was a little off on the landing, was the top finisher in 13th. China’s Guangpu Qi took home the Beijing win for the second year, with Russia’s Petr Meduluch and Australia’s David Morris rounding out the podium.
“Getting enough speed was hard for our guys today,” said head aerials coach Todd Ossian. “We’ll look to make adjustments on the site and with our waxing for tomorrow. But we aren’t going to dwell on the results from today. All the athletes are looking forward to the competition tomorrow, especially the team event. We have a lot of fun with that.”
Competition continues Dec. 20th with the aerials team event. Athletes will complete an individual qualification jump, which counts as a World Cup result, before forming teams for finals. Qualifications begin at 2:10 p.m. local time.
Watch Ashley Caldwell's winning jump from Beijing.
Olympian Ashley Caldwell claimed top honors at the FIS Freestyle aerials World Cup opener in Beijing.
It was Caldwell’s sixth World Cup podium and third World Cup win.
It is the first time Caldwell has worn the yellow leader’s bib.
Kiley McKinnon, who podiumed twice last year in Beijing, started off strong with a third place.
It was the third time both Caldwell and McKinnon have been on the podium together after going one-two at Deer Valley Resort, UT and Minsk, Belarus last season.
In her first World Cup back since 2013, Madison Olsen finished 11th.
Eric Loughran was the top finisher for the U.S. men in 13th.
Jonathon Lillis was 15th, Alex Bowen 18th and Mac Bohonnon 22nd.
Caldwell’s Winning Jump: full, full, full (triple twisting triple flip)
McKinnon’s Third Place Jump: full, double full (triple twisting double flip)
Competition continues Dec. 20th with the aerials team event.
Ashley Caldwell I competed with a full, full in qualifications and almost blew it. I barely squeaked in, it was nerve-racking. I did triples in training and competed triples in finals. I hadn’t done full, full, full and only a few lay full fulls in training the past couple days. I did [a full, full, full] in training and almost didn’t get that one. The one in finals was ok, I put it to my feet, but I have a lot of stuff to work on. After hurting my knee prior to coming to Beijing, I was only planning to compete with doubles, but I was doing well and I felt good, so the coaches thought it would be ok for me to go up and I did and it paid off. If I can land tomorrow for my teammates, that’d be sick.
Kiley McKinnon My jumps went really well for this early in the season. I was really happy with my full fulls, I hadn’t done them yet this season, so I was happy I was able to get them to my feet in competition. For tomorrow, I’m going to try and take a little more speed. My full, double full was a little small and I think that’s what got me on my score. With more speed I’ll try and stay straight and stomp my jump.
I love competing in Beijing. I got my first ever podium here, so coming back here knowing that gives me a bit of confidence. It’s also just one of the coolest places we compete at, so we’re all excited to be here. The sight is amazing this year, so it’s a lot of fun.
Todd Ossian, Head Aerials Coach Speed was a big issue for our guys today. We’ll look to make adjustments on the site and with our waxing for tomorrow. But we aren’t going to dwell on the results from today. All the athletes are looking forward to the competition tomorrow, especially the team event. We have a lot of fun with that.
There are a lot of talented women out there right now. Ashley and Kiley have a legitimate chance to do well at every event they compete in. They are very capable of continuing on the success they had from last season. Ashley is such a natural lander, it’s an amazing attribute she brings to the table. She’s only done two full, full, fulls this season, so we have a lot to work on, but she knows it and that’s what she gets fired up for.