Caldwell Third in Aerials at Krasnoyarsk
Ashley Caldwell led the Americans at the Aerials’ FIS World Cup Finals in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, with a third-place finish. This is Ashley’s first World Cup podium of the 2019-2020 season and 15th of her career.
In a sport that requires precision from not only the athletes but the elements, the Siberian wind posed a challenge all night. “It wasn’t too strong,” explained World Cup Coach Eric Bergoust. “Just starting, stopping and changing directions. Every team struggled with it. It was very difficult at times to hit the jump with the right speed and some athletes, from every country, were just unlucky at times.”
Four American women qualified for finals: Ashley, Megan Nick, Kaila Kuhn and Madison Varmette. After the first final round, Ashley was the only to advance into Super Finals. She stomped out a full double full and was all smiles in the finish area as she waited for her score of 88.83 to land her in the third-place position. Ashley shared the podium with Australia’s Laura Peel, who came in first and clinched the FIS crystal globe, and China’s Sicun Xu, who came in second.
Megan finished in 7th, Kaila in 11th, Madison in 12th, Winter Vinecki in 14th and Megan Smallhouse in 16th.
On the men’s side, three Americans qualified for finals: Jon Lillis, Eric Loughran and Alex Bowen. None advanced to the super final round. Jon finished 7th, Alex in 9th and Eric in 10th. Chris Lillis finished 14th, Quinn Dehlinger in 18th and Justin Schoenefeld in 24th. Switzerland's Noe Roth won the event and the FIS crystal globe, Russia’s own Pavel Krotov came in second and Canada’s Lewis Irving in third.
Krasnoyarsk marks the end of the U.S. Aerial Ski Team’s FIS World Cup season and three women and three men finished top-15 in the world. Megan had a breakout season earning two second-place podiums and ended the 2019-2020 ranked 4th overall. Winter continued to wrack up Super Finals experience, earned a career-best fourth-place finish at Deer Valley and ended the season ranked 10th overall. Kaila, in her first year named to the U.S. Ski Team finished ranked 12th. Chris Lillis continued to climb the ladder and improved from his 8th place to 6th year over year. Justin Schoenefeld matched his 10th place ranking from last season and Jon Lillis finished ranked 14th.
"I had a rough season," said Ashley. "And I feel like podiums were attainable for our whole team this year but I felt like I kept missing good opportunities. It was nice to finally compete like I've been training and land quality jumps. It was a nice ending for the season but I have huge expectations for myself and this team for the next few seasons."
"It feels great to build on the previous season and work on consistency with new DD this year but I still have a lot to work on so I’m ready to get back at it and keep improving this summer to be ready for next season," said Megan.
“We were to happy to see Bowen, Loughran and Jon all jump well this week,” said Eric of the night as he reflected on the season. “It’s great that Justin and Chris got a couple wins, and great for Bowen, Justin, and Jon to finish on a high note. Of course, we are all very happy for Caldwell to get on the podium and finish strong. She jumped great! She makes it look easy.”
The Aerials Team will return to home snow to compete in the 2020 U.S. Freestyle Aerials National Championships at Bristol Mountain, N.Y., on March 14.