U.S. women aerialists make history

Kiley McKinnon and Ashley Caldwell, right, made history in U.S. women’s aerials. Photo by Katie Coleman/USSA

Ashley Caldwell and Kiley McKinnon of the U.S. women's freestyle aerial ski team did something Thursday night that hadn't been done in their lifetime—the American women stood 1-2 on a World Cup podium.

Not since 1989 had the Americans placed first and second in a FIS Freestyle World Cup competition.

Caldwell, 21, a two-time Olympian, was the only woman in the field to throw down two triple flips, leading to a score of 99.78 and her first victory in four years and second career World Cup win, according to U.S. Ski and the Deseret News.

"I am so excited," Caldwell said. "It's been a while. I took two years off for knee injuries [back-to-back ACL tears]. It's really awesome to come back and be at the top again after those long years. And to be with Kiley is incredible.

Ashley Caldwell

Ashley Caldwell celebrates after a run at World Cup event at Deer Valley in Park City, Utah. She ended up winning for the first time in four years. Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

"This is the first time I've ever done lay-double-full-full in contest and only the second time I've done full-full-full in contest, and the first time doing them together. It's really exciting for it to pay off."

According to the Deseret News, Caldwell never considered changing her game plan once the world's top woman aerials and Olympic medalist Xu Mengtao fell while trying to land a triple and was eliminated from the super final.

"No hesitation," she said. "In training, I was hitting the takeoffs and doing really nice jumps. I wasn't quite landing the way I wanted to, but I put them to my feet and I skied them out as good as I needed to take the win."

In the third World Cup competition of the season, this one at Deer Valley in Park City, Utah, McKinnon, 19, made the podium for the third time this season (and of her career) and moved to within two points of the World Cup aerials lead by landing a pair of very clean doubles and scoring 95.52 points.

"I focused on doing what I know how to do and am really happy with my jumps,” McKinnon said. "It's great to be on the podium with Ashley. It's so fun jumping with her and I'm really happy for her."

Melanie Palenek and Jodie Spiegel were the last to accomplish the rare feat of a 1-2 U.S. Women's aerials finish, completing it in 1989 in Lake Placid, New York, and Are, Sweden.

The men also made history with eight athletes qualifying for the finals, though the field is smaller than usual because of the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships next week in Kreischberg, Austria.

Mac Bohonnon made his second podium of the season by finishing second with 128.51 points behind the 138.50 total by Qi Guangpu of China.

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