American Megan Nick was the only finalist not performing a triple backflip in the medal-round final of women’s aerials Monday, but the 25-year-old executed her jump flawlessly to claim bronze in her Olympic debut at the 2022 Winter Games.
Under the lights in frigid, minus-11 degrees Fahrenheit weather, Nick stuck a back full-double full in Final 1 for a 95.17, advancing as the fifth-best qualifier, then nailed the same jump in Final 2 with a clean, square exit to score a 93.76.
Three of the six finalists had poor landings, and Nick – accomplishing the best of what she and her degree of difficulty were capable of – ultimately had enough to clinch a podium spot.
China’s Xu Mengtao captured gold, the first in women’s aerials for China. The 2014 Olympic silver medalist and 2013 world champion entered as the No. 1 women’s aerialists in the world.
Nick’s teammate Ashley Caldwell, the world champion in 2017 and runner-up in 2021, put down the two highest-scoring jumps of F1 with a back lay-full-full – triple-twisting triple backflip – for 103.92 and 105.60. But she went huge in F2 and slapped back on her landing to take fourth, and promptly congratulated her competitors.
Belarusian Hanna Huskova, entering as the defending gold medalist, delivered under pressure with a 107.95 for silver, while reigning world champion Laura Peel of Australia went to aggressive on her takeoff and had a bad landing, finishing in fifth.
Nick’s bronze is the first U.S. medal in women’s aerials in 24 years; Nikki Stone last earned hardware, a gold, at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Nick and Stone are the only two Americans to bring home a medal in the event.