The women’s aerials event begins Thursday morning in the U.S. with the qualifying round. Australia’s Lydia Lassila is looking to become the most successful athlete in the women’s aerials competition. Lassila claimed the gold medal in the event in 2010 and took home the bronze in Sochi. She is one of three women to claim multiple medals in the aerials event.
At age 36, the Australian can become the oldest freestyle skier to claim a medal at the Olympic Winter Games. The PyeongChang Games are her fifth, with Salt Lake City being her first. Countrywoman Danielle Scott is also a serious contender for Australia.
Americans and best friends Ashley Caldwell and Kiley McKinnon are serious medal contenders. The U.S. has only won one gold medal in the event. Nikki Stone claimed the title in the 1998 Nagano Games.
This is Caldwell’s third Olympics. At just 16 years old, she finished 10th overall in Vancouver, and she also placed 10th in Sochi. Caldwell is coming off a strong World Championship where she won gold.
Her ability to land triples consistently will make her a gold-medal favorite. She is expected to attempt a triple for every round of the competition.
Fans do not know if Caldwell will attempt attempt a quadruple-twisting triple backflip aka “The Daddy” in the Games. She is only the second woman ever to land it, and the first to do it cleanly. She pulled off the feat at the world championships, helping her win gold.
Teammate Kiley McKinnon is making her Olympic debut. Due to injury, she was unable to compete in Sochi. McKinnon rebounded from injury becoming the 2015 World Cup aerials champion. Like many aerialists, McKinnon is a former gymnast which helps her while in the air.
She had an up-and-down 2016/17 season but finished fourth at the 2017 World Championships.
American Madison Olsen will also compete. The 22-year-old is making her Olympic debut. Olsen made the switch from moguls after watching the aerials team practice in person. The excitement she got from watching skier go off giant jumps convinced her to switch specialties.
She joined the World Cup circuit full-time in 2013. She has registered six top-10 finishes. Olsen reached the podium for the first time in 2016.
Belarus’ Alla Tsuper is the reigning Olympic champion. She was 34 years old when she won gold in Sochi, and at 38 is the oldest competitor in the field in PyeongChang.
This is her sixth Olympic Games, setting a record for a freestyle skier (male or female). If Tsuper were to repeat, she would become the oldest woman to win an individual gold medal at the Olympic Winter Games.
The qualifying round starts Thursday morning at 6 a.m. ET / 3 a.m. PT, and you can stream it LIVE here.