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Flying Through the Air With the Greatest of Ease

When women's aerials was added to the Olympic programme, it was assumed that Lina Cheryazova would be the first champion. She was the defending world champion and the only female aerialist to consistently perform successful triple flips. In the weeks before the Lillehammer Games, she won five straight World Cup events. But while training in Lillehammer, Cheryazova crashed and was knocked unconscious. In the qualifying round, the top 12 would advance to the final. Sixteenth after the first of two jumps, Cheryazova barely squeezed through to the final by moving up to twelfth place. In the final, she recovered her form and won the gold medal by less than a point. When she went to telephone her parents back in Uzbekistan, team officials informed her that her mother had died three weeks earlier. Her mother's dying wish had been that Lina not be told until after the Olympic competition.


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