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Another gold for Belarus in aerials at Olympics

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm •  Published: February 17, 2014
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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — This was a high five Anton Kushnir will never forget.

Five spins into the frosty night air followed by a near-perfect landing gave Kushnir the gold medal Monday and wrapped up a sweep of aerials gold at the Sochi Olympics for Belarus.

He won it three nights after Alla Tsuper, who recently moved to Belarus from Ukraine, took the women's gold.

"We managed to repeat the success," Kushnir said. "I don't know actually how this happened but I got the gold medal."

Kushnir won with the biggest trick going in the game right now — the "back double full-full-double full," which is five twists packed into three head-over-heels flips while he soars 50 feet (15 meters) off the ramp.

He earned a score of 134.5 for the trick to beat David Morris of Australia by more than 24 points.

A pair of Chinese jumpers, Qi Guangpu and Jia Zongyang, had a chance to better those scores but both fell on the landings of their five-twist jumps.

Jia wound up with the bronze but this was another disappointment for the country that regularly brings a handful of top-10 athletes into the Olympics, yet has walked away only with a pair of bronze medals since Han Xiaopeng took gold in 2006.

"It was quite sad that we didn't get more medals than we actually did," Jia said. "Probably we could have done better. We lost some good opportunities."

Qi finished fourth, Wu Chao came in 11th and the world's top-ranked jumper coming into the Games, Liu Zhongqing, fell on both his qualifying jumps and finished last among the 21 skiers.

Belarus, meanwhile, keeps on finishing first.

This is the second straight men's gold for the country. In 2010, Alexei Grishin won the title and got his picture on a postage stamp back home. On Monday, he didn't make it through qualifying. Maybe Kushnir will replace him on the stamp.

"I'd be happy if that happens," he said. "I'd never thought about that."

Though the Olympics have been won with five twists before — Ales Valenta back in 2002 — it was the late Jeret "Speedy" Peterson who set the bar with his "Hurricane" trick — a more difficult five-twister, in which three of the twists come during the middle flip.

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