Skip Nav

Beijing Olympics: Team USA Wins Gold in Mixed Aerials

Watch the High-Flying Performances That Clinched US Gold in Mixed Aerials

Beijing Olympics: Team USA Wins Gold in Mixed Aerials
Image Source: Getty / Lars Baron

On Feb. 10, Team USA won its first gold medal in Olympic aerials since 1998. Ashley Caldwell, Christopher Lillis, and Justin Schoenefeld competed in the debut showing of Winter Olympics mixed aerials in Beijing, and they won with a combined score of 338.34. China received silver with a 324.22, and Canada's 290.98 earned bronze. This is Caldwell's fourth Olympic Games and Lillis's and Schoenefeld's first appearances at an Olympics.

"I've been in the hunt for a gold medal my entire career," Caldwell said after the team's win, according to the Associated Press. "To do it with these guys is incredible. Chris has been like a brother to me forever, and Justin is the love of my life, so that really helps." She and Schoenefeld have been dating for around three years, AP reports.

Aerials is an event in freestyle skiing not to be confused with ski jumping or big air. As freeskier Maggie Voisin, who does big air and slopestyle, tells POPSUGAR: "It's the crazy one jump, but they don't grab and they just stay super composed." Aerial jumps, she says, are very "tall and vertical," and they're scored primarily on execution (form, air, and landing). In big-air runs, which also consist of one jump, tricks are off-axis, she notes. "We go forward, we land switch, we land forward, and you get to put your own creativity into it." Big-air athletes, in her opinion, can stylize their tricks more so than aerialists.

In big air, you'll see jumps like Eileen Gu's double cork 1620. In aerials? Try a back double full-full-double full or a back full-full-full! "I look at those aerialists, and I'm like, 'You're crazy. You're crazy doing triples.' I'm like, 'Those jumps are terrifying.' My legs would buckle," Voisin admits. At the Olympics, big-air athletes compete in slopestyle as well, whereas aerial athletes stick to aerials.

Still to come are the individual women's and men's aerials competitions in Beijing. Ahead, check out the soaring jumps from Caldwell, Lillis, and Schoenefeld that took home gold for Team USA. Their pure joy is also captured in gold-medal-worthy photos.

To learn more about Team USA, visit Watch the Winter Olympics, now on NBC.

Latest Fitness