MINSK, Belarus - Last season's rookie of the year Ashley Caldwell rebounded from her injury last week to finish second in an aerials World Cup event Saturday in Minsk.
It was the second podium of Caldwell's career. Originally from Charleston, S.C. and now a resident of Lake Placid, the 2010 Olympian reached the podium for the first time in a World Cup event in Lake Placid, placing first on Jan. 21.
Hometown hero Anton Kushnir of Belarus won the men's event Saturday, with China's world champion Shuang Cheng the women's winner. It was an especially important victory for Kushnir, the World Championship bronze medalist, taking the first World Cup ever in his country of Belarus at an impressive new aerials facility near Minsk.
Ashley Caldwell takes off her skis following her winning jump in the World Cup aerials final on Jan. 21 in Lake Placid. Caldwell reached her second-career podium Saturday with a silver-medal effort in Belarus.
(Enterprise file photo — Morgan Ryan)
Caldwell, who did not compete last week in Moscow after a crash in training, came back strong for the final event of the season. She threw a full-full, followed by a full double full-full in the finals to score her second career World Cup podium. Her jumps were clean and performed with technical precision, but her degree of difficulty was just below that of Cheng, allowing the Chinese aerialist to edge Caldwell for the win.
"Ashley was excited and she jumped great," said U.S. aerials coach Todd Ossian. "This is a really great way to end the season and a great bounce back from Moscow."
"This week was alot better than last week," Caldwell said. "I didn't end up competing, so I'm really happy to come back strong."
Massachusetts native Emily Cook, coming off her second career World Cup victory in Moscow, jumped well in training. But in her qualification run she came off the jump a little bit forward, losing points and failing to make finals by one spot.
"It's pretty unlike Emily to do that (miss a takeoff), but she is a great sport," said Ossian about the veteran Cook. "She knows she had a very good season and has a lot to be proud of."
Dylan Ferguson finished 11th after a tough landing to a very clean final jump. Ferguson jumped well, but with slower takeoff speeds was unable to get the amplitude needed and he was forced to drag his hands on the landing. He was the only American man to qualify for Saturday's finals. Scotty Bahrke was 24th.
"Our results were pretty spectacular this season. We are a pretty young team and we have a lot to build on this summer," said Ossian of the 2010-11 World Cup season. "We are all really motivated to train hard this summer."
Saturday's competition was the final World Cup aerials event of the season. Cook led the U.S. in the final standings in fifth with Caldwell eighth. Cheng topped the women's standings while fellow countryman Guangpu Qi won the men's.
The freestyle World Cup circuit resumes Feb. 26 in Marianske Lazne, Czech Republic for dual moguls.