Hanna Huskova ensured that the women’s Olympic aerials title stayed to Belarus, after she produced a gold-medal winning performance in the six-strong super-final at PyeongChang 2018 on 16 February.
After the field was whittled down from 20 to just six competitors, Huskova produced her best performance of the three-stage final, scoring 96.14 with a back lay-full-full to see off the dual challenge of China’s Zhang Xin (95.52) and Kong Fanyu (70.14), who took silver and bronze respectively.
“It is the best moment of my life,” said Huskova. “I’ve been dreaming of being first on the podium all my sporting life.” Explaining her country’s sustained success in the event, she added: “We have good coaches and our head coach (Nikolay Kozeko) is a symbol of our team. The girls love him and he’s always finding newcomers in our country.”
“I think this is amazing because I was injured,” said Chinese veteran Zhang, reacting to her silver. “I came to PyeongChang and trained for four days and I think this medal is extraordinary.”
“There was a lot of pressure on me because the Olympic Games are such a big competition. I was able to control it though,” commented bronze medallist Kong. “I was confident going into this competition because the Chinese are good at aerial skiing.”
Alla Tsuper, Huskova’s compatriot and the defending champion, struggled to replicate her stunning Sochi 2014 form when it mattered most. Attempting a back full-full-full – the most difficult jump of the night – on her third and final jump, she failed to nail her landing and could only finish fourth.
“I feel empty, because I would like to have jumped better today, but I was a little bit slow on my last jump, which is why I landed like that,” said the 38-year-old Belarusian, who is appearing at her sixth Olympic Winter Games. “I want to be on the podium, but that’s life. I don't know what's in the future. I need to just relax a little bit and think a little bit.”