Chinese jumpers sweep top spots

LAKE PLACID – At this stage of the game, you could call the Chinese athletes dominant in the world of aerials skiing.

At the Olympic Ski Jump Complex in Lake Placid on Friday, China swept the top spots in the men’s and women’s Freestyle Cup aerials competition and took four of six podium positions.

Mengtao Xu captured her third straight women’s title in Lake Placid after winning both contests a year ago at the same venue.

Zongyang Jia won the men’s event, his second victory in the Olympic Village in as many seasons.

China also soared to a pair of silvers, with Yu Yang taking the women’s runner-up position and Guangpu Qi finishing second for the men.

Two other athletes were also thrilled to land on the podium as Emily Cook of the United States captured the women’s bronze and David Morris placed third to claim the first World Cup medal of his career.

Xu and Jia entered Friday’s competition as the World Cup points leaders and left no doubt they both belong at the top of the standings. Xu grabbed the eighth World Cup gold medal of his career, winning with a final jump that was a back-full-double-double-full worth 129.65 points. His teammate Qi did the same jump to take second with 123.01 points.

Morris, who finished fourth a week ago at Val Saint Come, Que., finally broke through to the podium with a third-place jump with 122.57 points. Fourth place for the men went to China’s Hang Zhou and Maxim Gustik of Belarus rounded out the top five.

The aerials competition included three rounds. A full field of jumpers started in the qualifying round, with the top 12 advancing to the semifinals. That group was whittled down to the four highest scoring athletes who competed in the super final.

Two Americans reached the semifinal, with Michael Rossi winding up in ninth place and Dylan Ferguson finishing 12th.

Ferguson, who hails from Massachusetts, had the fourth highest scoring jump to reach the second round, where he performed a jump with the highest degree of difficulty during the competition. Ferguson, however, failed to land cleanly to miss his shot at reaching the podium.

Xu also won the women’s title a week ago in Canada, and triumphed Friday with a final score of 92.72 points. Yang was second with a 90.52 result and Cook scored 87.25 points for third place.

Madison Olsen was the other U.S. women to reach the second round and finished ninth.

The USANA Freestyle World Cup stop in Lake Placid wraps up today with a second aerials contest at the Olympic Ski Jump Complex.