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Chinese Duo Makes Freestyle History
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Han Xiaopeng and Qiu Sen made history on Monday when they became the first Chinese men to qualify for an Olympic Games freestyle aerials final.

Han had the satisfaction of going through to Thursday's final in first place with 250.45pts while Qiu was in sixth place with 236.50.

Tournament favourite Jeret Peterson of the United States was down in eighth spot on 227.21.

"I am relieved that we have made a historical breakthrough for the Chinese men's aerial team as we have never made the final before," said Han.

"I felt a lot of pressure, especially on the second jump. But I knew that if I performed my best I was pretty sure I would get into the final.

"It's a surprise to get to the final as the number one ranked athlete."

Han admitted that he might attempt a more difficult programme on Thursday in the final.

"I am thinking about more difficult jumps. But according to the scores today, the difficult jumps didn't really get good results so I will have to think about it."

Han, seventh in the World Cup standings, was only one of three jumpers to record two jumps that scored more than 120 points each as he pulled off a quad twisting back-full-double with his first jump.

That was followed by a less demanding triple-twisting back-lay-double.

Qiu said he was surprised how comfortable he felt.

"All I could think about was getting to the final and I knew that if I could land safely I would make it through."

Liu Zhongqing and Ou Xiaotao, the other two Chinese men in the tournament, failed to qualify for the final.

Also failing to make the final was defending champion Ales Valenta of the Czech Republic who produced a scratchy performance to score just 193.58 points and finish in a lowly 21st place.

Canada's Steve Omischl, another pre-tournament favourite, also failed to make it through while America's World Cup top ten pair Joe Pack and Ryan St Onge were also left on the sidelines.

(China Daily February 22, 2006)

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