Vinecki, Schoenefeld fifth, USA sixth in Ruka World Cups
It was a back-to-back competition day for the aerial skiers of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team on Friday, Dec. 3, with two World Cup events in Ruka, Finland.
Things kicked off with a one-jump World Cup event. Differing from the usual World Cup format, a one-jump World Cup is exactly what it sounds like: athletes have only one opportunity to land on the podium. Winter Vinecki and Justin Schoenefeld led the Americans, each placing fifth.
“We’re still in the beginning of our season and just getting our jumping feet back under us,” said Vinecki. “It was exciting to put some jumps to my feet today. I’m looking forward to cleaning up my jumps [for next week]. I’ll also hopefully get some new tricks off in Ruka so I’m in a good position for the rest of the season.”
Vinecki has competed her double-Full Full the past two days and will look to bring a Full double-Full to snow to round out her trick package. Today’s double-Full Full earned her a score of 89.19, tying with Australia’s Danielle Scott for fifth place.
China’s Xu Mengtao and Kong Fanyu earned first and second, respectively. Belarus’ Hanna Huskova rounded out the women’s podium in third. Kaila Kuhn finished eighth, Tasia Tanner 18th, Karenna Elliott 22nd, Dani Loeb 24th, and Ashley Caldwell 27th.
Schoenefeld threw a Full double-Full Full to earn a score of 117.26. Russia’s Maxim Burov won, China’s Zongyang Jian came in second and Switzerland’s Noe Roth finished third. Eric Loughran finished 18th, Derek Kreuger 37th, and Quinn Dehlinger 38th.
Vinecki, Schoenefeld, and Loughran represented the U.S. in the Mixed Team event, which makes its Olympic debut in February in China later this season. In Mixed Team Aerials, nations field mixed-gender teams of three athletes. Each team’s athletes jump in the first round and combined scores per nation determine which teams compete in the final round of four.
Vinecki kicked it off for the USA and threw a double-Full Full in the first round and earned a score of 89.18. Loughran jumped second with a Full double-Full Full, looked great in the air but came in a bit too short and punched front, only earning 92.04. Schoenefeld also threw Full double-Full Full but unfortunately slapped back on the landing, earning 83.63. Team USA finished sixth. China won, Russia came in second, and Ukraine in third.
"It felt great improving from the day before, but I know there is still a lot of work to be done to end up on the podium this winter," said Shoenefeld. "I'm excited to get some more training in before next weekend's World Cups. This is an important season and we are building to peak at the right time."
“We made some improvements today and we are slowly moving to where we should be,” said Head Aerial Coach Vladimir (Vlad) Lebedev. "We look forward to continuing to train and getting more jumps ahead of the next competitions.”
Aerials’ World Cup season continues next week in Ruka with three more competitions on Dec. 10 & 11.