BEIJING, China — The Americans have won gold in the Olympics’ first mixed team aerials event, giving the U.S. its first medals in the freestyle skiing discipline in a dozen years.
The trio of Ashley Caldwell, Christopher Lillis and Justin Schoenefeld each earned their first Winter Games medals. Lillis’ back double full-full-double full was given the highest score of any trick in the finals, and the U.S. title was assured when Schoenefeld followed with a clean back double full-full-full.
The 28-year-old Caldwell, a 2017 world champion, is in her fourth Olympics but has never finished higher than 10th. She and the 23-year-old Schoenefeld have been dating for about three years.
Two-time medalist Jia Zongyang cost China a chance at gold when he flipped forward on his landing, and the host country settled for silver. Canada won bronze.
The U.S. hadn’t medaled in aerials since 2010, when Jeret Peterson won silver in the men’s event. The last Americans to win gold were Eric Bergoust and Nikki Stone in 1998.
The mixed team event made its debut at these Games. Each country gets three jumpers and can’t use more than two per gender. All six countries in the finals went with two men and one woman.
It was part of the United States’ best day yet at the Beijing Games. Figure skater Nathan Chen won gold in the individual men's competition and snowboarder Chloe Kim became the first woman to win back-to-back titles in halfpipe, giving Team USA a total of four gold medals and 10 overall.