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U.S. beats out China to win mixed aerials Olympic debut

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                From left silver medal winners China’s Xu Mengtao, Jia Zongyang and Qi Guangpu; gold medal winners United States’ Ashley Caldwell, Christopher Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld; and bronze medal winners Canada’s Marion Thenault, Miha Fontaine and Lewis Irving celebrate during the venue award ceremony for the mixed team aerials finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, China.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    From left silver medal winners China’s Xu Mengtao, Jia Zongyang and Qi Guangpu; gold medal winners United States’ Ashley Caldwell, Christopher Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld; and bronze medal winners Canada’s Marion Thenault, Miha Fontaine and Lewis Irving celebrate during the venue award ceremony for the mixed team aerials finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, China.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS United States’ Justin Schoenefeld, center, celebrates with Christopher Lillis, left, and Ashley Caldwell during the mixed team aerials finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, China.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    United States’ Justin Schoenefeld, center, celebrates with Christopher Lillis, left, and Ashley Caldwell during the mixed team aerials finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, China.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                United States’ Christopher Lillis competes during the mixed team aerials finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, China.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    United States’ Christopher Lillis competes during the mixed team aerials finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, China.

ZHANGJIAKOU, China >> A trio of Americans won gold in the Olympics’ first mixed team aerials event today, giving the United States its first medals in the freestyle skiing discipline in a dozen years.

Ashley Caldwell, Christopher Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld all earned their first Winter Games medals. Lillis’ back double full-full-double full was given the highest score of any trick in the finals, and the U.S. gold was assured when Schoenefeld followed with a clean back double full-full-full.

The 28-year-old Caldwell, a 2017 world champion, is in her fourth Olympics but had never finished higher than 10th. She and Schoenefeld have been dating for about three years.

Two-time medalist Jia Zongyang cost China a chance at gold when he flipped forward on his landing, and the host country settled for silver. Canada won bronze.

The United States hadn’t medaled in aerials since 2010, when Jeret Peterson won silver in the men’s event. The last Americans to win gold were Eric Bergoust and Nikki Stone in 1998.

The mixed team event made its debut at the Beijing Games. Each country gets three jumpers and can’t use more than two per gender. All six countries in the finals went with two men and one woman.

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