PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) Hanna Huskova survived the tricky wind at Phoenix Snow Park to give Belarus a second straight Olympic gold medal in women’s aerials.
The 25-year-old Huskova narrowly edged Zhang Xin in tricky conditions that wreaked havoc with much of the 12-woman field. Huskova nailed her final jump, a double-twisting back layout, and posted a score of 96.14, just ahead of Zhang’s 95.52.
Kong Fanyu took bronze on a sloppy night, giving China two medals in Friday’s event. Huskova and Zhang were the only two women in the finals to land all three of their jumps cleanly.
Alla Tsuper, who won gold for Belarus at the 2014 Sochi Games, was fourth in her sixth Olympic appearance. The 38-year-old mother-of-two attempted the most difficult jump of the night, a triple-twisting back flip, but she tumbled forward on the landing and slid face-first down the hill with just one ski attached.
Laura Peel of Australia was fifth and American rival Madison Olsen was sixth. Olsen’s attempt at giving the U.S. women their first Olympic medal in the event in 20 years ended when her back slid into the hill while landing her final jump.
Gold medal favorite Xu Mengtao of China washed out in the second round and failed to advance to the finals. China now has seven medals in the event since it made its Olympic debut in 1994, but no golds.
Winds swirled throughout the competition, starting off from left to right before moving directly into the face of the skiers as they went down the hill at speeds upward of 30 mph. Coaches would hold them for several moments at the top of the hill waiting for the wind to calm down enough to attempt anything close to a ”safe” jump.
It’s the second competition at the Snow Park to have wind issues. The women’s snowboard slopestyle final was a mess on Sunday, when only nine of the 50 runs were completed without any significant errors.
For more AP Olympic coverage: https://www.wintergames.ap.org