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Aerials Continues World Cup Tour in Minsk

By Lara Carlton
February, 20 2020
Raubichi
Coaches prep the aerial site at the Raubichi sports complex in Minsk, Belarus (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Eric Bergoust)

Another city, another circus. Going straight from the 2020 Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International to competition in Moscow, the U.S. Aerial Ski Team found some time to pause and recharge in Minsk ahead of their next World Cup event on Saturday, including attending their second circus of the season. For just 35 rubles, athletes were treated to high flying acrobatic entertainment and got to enjoy others launching themselves in the air rather than themselves for a change.

Springtime temperatures in Minsk forced the organizers to cancel the first day of training on Wednesday. “This competition in Minsk will be challenging for everyone out there with the weather conditions,” said Justin Schoenefeld. In order to preserve the snow at the site, athletes were only given three jumps the other two training days Thursday and Friday. Head Aerials Coach Vladimir Lebedev cites the importance of preserving the knoll from overuse as a major factor in restricting training. 

Although three days off from training and competing was a welcome reprieve, athletes are anxious to get back out on the jumps and continue their World Cup tour. 

“Last year I missed the podium [here] with a fourth-place finish and I am hoping for a better result this year,” reflected Justin. “Saturday, I won’t be thinking about my result from last season during the competition. All I will be focused on is putting down my best jumps when they need to be done, just as if it were another training jump. Finding the right mindset for competition is different for everyone and it is very important for success in every sport.”

Competition is set to go off at the Raubichi sports complex, just outside of Minsk’s city center. Twelve Americans will represent the United States under the lights on Saturday. In addition to the World Cup, athletes will also participate in a synchro event on Sunday. Not a World Cup contest, Synchronized Aerials consists of a team of two athletes of the same gender jumping off of the kickers in unison. Teams have one qualifying jump and the top six teams advance to a one-jump final. 

U.S. STARTERS
Women

Ashley Caldwell
Megan Nick
Winter Vinecki
Madison Varmette
Megan Smallhouse
Kaila Kuhn 

Men
Eric Loughran
Chris Lillis
Jon Lillis
Justin Schoenefeld
Quinn Dehlinger
Alex Bowen

HOW TO WATCH
All times EST

Saturday, Feb. 22
11:00 a.m. - Men and women’s aerials, Minsk, BLR - Olympic Channel, OlympicChannel.com, NBC Sports Gold