U.S. Aerial Skiers Capture Silver in Mixed-Team World Cup Event

by Bob Reinert

Winter Vinecki takes a training run at Deer Valley Resort on Feb. 3, 2021 in Park City, Utah. 


Team USA found its way onto the podium in Saturday’s freestyle mixed-team aerials world cup event in Ruka, Finland.

The U.S. team of Justin Schoenefeld, Winter Vinecki and Chris Lillis took the silver medal behind China, which claimed the gold for the second straight week at Ruka. Ukraine took home its second consecutive bronze medal.

The Americans were sixth last week. That team included Vinecki, Schoenefeld and Eric Loughran.

“It was super-exciting to end on a high note here in Finland,” Vinecki said. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs getting in the rhythm of things. I was super-excited to be in the team event. It was only my second one. (We were so close) to the top of the podium there. This gave us a bit of a confidence boost for the rest of the season.”
Vinecki laid down a double-full full in both rounds and pulled off an impressive save in the second round of the final. She came in a little hot but managed to keep it to her feet. 
“I was able to save it,” Vinecki said. “I was very determined not to fall, especially with it being a team event. I said to myself, ‘I am going to land this’ and did.”

Lillis nailed both of his double-full full fulls in the team event. He was coming off a crash in training two weeks ago.

“It was just a pretty big step forward for me personally,” Lillis said. “I had a pretty traumatic crash that caused me to pull out of the events (last week). Getting back out there jumping at high caliber felt good.”

Schoenefeld functioned as anchor and came through with his double-full full fulls, clinching the podium spot for Team USA.
“It was great being in the team event and finding success today,” Schoenefeld said. 
Aerials will next compete at the U.S. National Championships, scheduled for Dec. 31 at Bristol Mountain, New York.
Freestyle mixed-team aerials will make its Olympic debut at Beijing in February.
The U.S. took the bronze medal in the discipline at the world championships in Kazakhstan in March. The Russian Ski Federation earned the gold medal and Switzerland took home the silver medal.

Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.