Americans Kiley McKinnon, Madison Olsen Make Aerials Final

The qualifying round is underway

The qualification round of the women’s aerials proved to be challenging. Skiers were going for difficult jumps which caused some the top competitors “to go for it” and miss out on the final. 

That fate would apply to American Ashley Caldwell. She is known for progressing the sport forward and always trying difficult jumps. In the first qualification round she attempted the jump with the highest degree of difficulty in the round, a back full-full-full, worth a 4.050 of degree of difficulty scale.

Unfortunately, going big didn’t pay off as Caldwell couldn’t pull off a clean landing. She had great height and good form, it was just the landing that gave her a slight issue. It was enough trouble to earn her only an 81.81 worth 11th place in the first qualification round. 

In the second round, Caldwell dialed it back some. She attempted a back lay-full-full, a 3.8 on the degree of difficulty. Even though an easier jump, Caldwell had more difficulty with it. She looked off balanced as she took off. Her knees were bent the whole time and she never got full extension. She landed on her heels dragging her hands in the snow. It was a disappointing run earning her only 55.86 points.

The three-time Olympian officially placed 11th in the round, ending her hopes of medaling in the Pyeongchang Games. Even though she didn’t advance, she is still one of the best skiers in the sport. She remains only one of two females to ever land “The Daddy” in a competition. 

Fellow Americans, Kiley McKinnon and Madison Olsen fared better. Olsen had a particularly good jump for her in the first run. Olsen landed a twisting double backflip perfectly in her first run. Even though she was only ranked 17th this season, and has a lower degree of difficulty on her jumps, she is heating up at the right time and considered an up-and-comer in aerials.

Olsen’s second jump looked just as good. She attempted a back lay-full and again landed cleanly. It only earned her an 80.04 because of the degree of difficulty, however, it was good enough for 6th in the second qualification round. She had to anxiously watch six more skiers after her, but her 87.88 was good enough for the last spot in the finals.

Teammate Kiley McKinnon had a disappointing first jump. She attempted a back full-double full. She looked good on the takeoff but couldn’t land cleanly. It earned her a disappointing 72.26. 

In her second jump, McKinnon brought the degree of difficulty down, attempting a back full-full. She had impressive form in the air, only breaking her legs a little bit, and had a perfect landing worth a score of 87.88. She qualified just above Olsen in the second-to-last spot for the finals.

For the International competitors Australian Lydia Lassila had a disappointing event. She was looking to become the most decorated athlete in the women’s aerials Olympic competition. She took home gold in Vancouver and bronze in Sochi. At 36 years old, she was competing in her fifth Olympics. Her best score of 66.27 was only good for 14th overall. 

Belarus’ Alla Tsuper entered qualification as the reigning Olympic champion. Her first run was disappointing, but Tsuper had an excellent second run. She attempted a back full-tuck-full in her second run and was rewarded with a score of 99.37, the best in the second round.

The finals will take place tomorrow, Friday Feb. 16 at 6 a.m. ET.

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