Lillis and Olsen Top Finishers in Deer Valley Aerials
It was a night of ‘almosts’ across the U.S. Ski Team as the Visa Freestyle International wrapped up with a packed house for aerials. Jonathon Lillis (Rochester, N.Y.) put down a near perfect score to earn a spot in the super finals but crashed on the landing of his final jump to finish sixth.
Russian Maxim Burov took the win over China’s Guangpu Qi for the men. China’s Mengtao Xu took a dominating win over Russian Kristina Spiridonova for the women with Maddy Olsen (Park City, Utah) fourth. Madison Varmette (Stafford, Va.) was sixth in her first appearance in the super finals.
Favored Kiley McKinnon (Madison, Conn.) and Ashley Caldwell (Ashburn, Va.) failed to make the Super Final cut. With no American women on the podium, McKinnon did clinch an Olympic spot with just two aerials events remaining.
In the opening round, McKinnon landed clean but just missed the six-skier super finals. Caldwell went with her traditional triple but touched down and failed to advance.
Lillis, on the other hand, went huge on his opening jump landing a textbook perfect quadruple twisting triple flip just two points from a perfect score.
“They don’t give out perfect score so it’s about as good as it gets,” he said “If I can get that going and keep that momentum up into the games I’ll be really happy.”
As the last jumper of the evening, he went big again with another quad twisting triple, this time a higher degree of difficulty, but spun out on landing.
“Going into the Super Final it was all about doing that full full double full,” he said. “It’s a hard trick to land and hard to perform. It’s all about practice and building up to the Games. That’s the one I intend to use to win there.”
The tour now heads to Lake Placid, New York for a pair of aerials events next weekend. So far only McKinnon has clinched a team spot, which requires two top-three finishes. The full team will be announced the week of January 22.