Although it was once again a silver medal at the Turin Games,
there is no reason to be disappointed as the Chinese women's
aerialists displayed strong overall strength.
"Our overall strength is fantastic," said Dustin Wilson, the
Canadian coach of the Chinese freestyle skiing aerials team. "We
have shown the whole world that China is a very strong force."
Missing the gold medal by 5.16 points to Switzerland's Evelyne
Leu, China's Li Nina grabbed the silver medal in the event on
Thursday. Her compatriot Xu Nannan finished fourth, while Guo
Xinxin and Wang Jiao came in sixth and 11th.
"This time, our aerialists have achieved the best ever results
in the snow events during the Winter Olympic Games," said Wang
Yitao, director of the Chinese Winter Sports Administrative Centre.
"It means that our overall strength is remarkable and we also have
a strong reserve team."
All four Chinese skiers made it to the final after the previous
day's qualifying rounds. After the first run in the final, they
even grabbed the top three positions, with Guo leading the ranking
with a perfect landing in a high-level jump, featuring a triple
somersault and two twists.
A flawless second jump by Swiss Leu combined with an unexpected
fall by Guo while landing led to China narrowly losing the gold and
settling for its second silver in this event.
In the 1998 Nagano Games, Xu won the silver in aerials, which
was also China's first Olympic medal in the snow events.
The team's strength has already caught the attention of
"The Chinese are really great. They have a lot of good guys and
a lot of potential," said the coach of the Swiss team. "They are
strong and they are going to have a lot of medals in the future for
China took to freestyle skiing aerials in 1989. It is a sport
characterised by acrobatic skills and agility. Since the Chinese
are good at these skills, it has given the country a breakthrough
in the snow events and enabled it to make rapid progress.
At the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games, China send two
women skiers for this event, which was listed as an Olympic medal
event for the first time. They finished in 17th and 18th places
respectively and registered the best results thus far for Chinese
After winning a silver in the 1998 Games, Xu failed to repeat
her performance four years later in Salt Lake City, finishing at
12th place. But Li, just 19 years old at that time, put in a
surprise 5th rank performance that has marked her dominance of the
sport ever since.
Since the 2002/03 season, Li has won ten World Cup stage titles,
ten runner-up positions and three third position finishes. She was
also China's first freestyle aerials world champion at the 2005
World Championships in Ruka, Finland.
Here in Turin, she lost the opportunity to become the youngest
grand slam aerialist with titles in the World Cup, World
Championships and Winter Olympic Games, but has gained valuable
"Compared with the last Olympics, I have grown more mature with
both my skills and psychological make-up," said Li. "The pressure
before the Games has turned into confidence and I'm not
disappointed with the silver medal."
Li's next goal is to raise the difficulty level.
"Since I injured my waist last December, I stopped practicing
the jumps of higher difficulty levels," Li said. "After the
Olympics, I will try the movement with 3.900 difficulty level,
which I planned to jump at the finals but gave up at the last
minute as I was not sure of success."
With the help of two Canadian coaches - Wilson, the skills coach
and Lucinda Thomson, the physicals coach - China has nurtured an
abundance of talents in the women's freestyle aerials team besides
silver medallist Li.
But for that fall on the second jump, 22-year-old Guo would have
been a strong contender for the gold medal at the Games this
"I felt a little disappointed since I believed I would land
steadily," said Guo, who has the highest degree of difficulty for
jumps in the team. "But I have no regrets. I have tried my best. In
the 2010 Vancouver Games, I promise to get the gold medal
Besides the four finalists during this year's Games, all of whom
are World Cup title holders, the two substitutes - Cheng Shuang and
Zhang Xin - were also strong contenders.
Nineteen-year-old Cheng was runner-up at the World Cup Mount
Buller stage last September, while Zhang, 21, finished second at
the Changchun stop.
"The freestyle skiing aerials is the event that fits the Chinese
skier very well," said Yang Erqi, who has been coaching the aerials
team for 11 years.
"We have already built a strong base and if we continue our
efforts, we will do better next time."
(China Daily February 24, 2006)