Host City: Sochi, Russia
Venue(s): Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, Krasnaya Polyana
Date Started: February 14, 2014
Date Finished: February 14, 2014
Belarus free skiiers concentrate on the aerials, and they were led in Sochi by [Alla Tsuper], competing in her fifth Winter Olympics, but one that lacked an Olympic medal. Tsuper had retired after the 2010 Winter Olympics and had a baby, but came back in 2013 for one last shot at the Olympics. The 2013/14 World Cup season was her first full World Cup season since 2008/09. The week before this event started, Tsuper announced that this was it – she would retire after Sochi. However, the heavy favorite was China’s [Li Nina], who led the season’s World Cup standings, had won the World Championship in 2005, 2007, and 2009, and had won silvers in this event at Torino and Vancouver.
The aerials were conducted as a series of elimination races. Twelve of the 23 starters made it out of qualifying to the final, six qualifying on the first run and six on the second run. The 12 finalists skiied three runs, with eight advancing to the second run, and four to the final, medal run. Tsuper and Li both made it to the medal run, accompanied by Li’s teammate [Xu Mengtao], and the defending champion, Australian [Lydia Ierodiaconou-Lassila], now competing in her fourth Winter Olympics. Tsuper went first on the final run, and landed her back full-full-full perfectly, scoring 98.01. Li was next and when she fell on the landing of her back double-full, double-full, having to be helped off the snow by her trainer, it virtually guaranteed medals to the other skiiers. Ierodiaconou-Lassila and Xu both stumbled on their landings, giving the gold medal to Tsuper, despite their higher difficulty. Xu took the silver medal with Ierodiaconou-Lassila winning her second Olympic medal, a bronze.
One original entrant never made it to Sochi. Brazilian [Laís Souza] had competed at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics as a gymnast, but then turned to freestyle skiing, and had qualified for the aerials at Sochi. She would have been the first Olympic gymnast to ever compete at the Winter Olympics, but in late January, while training in Park City, Utah, Souza fell on a landing and broke her neck. She was paralyzed from the neck down despite surgery to stabilize her neck.
|8||Emily Cook||34||United States||USA|
|10||Ashley Caldwell||20||United States||USA|
|22||Josi dos Santos||29||Brazil||BRA|