The New Olympic Mixed Team Aerials Event Provides Another Avenue For Skiers To Fly

by Bob Reinert

Justin Schoenefeld poses for a photo during training for the men's aerials during the 2021 Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International Ski World Cup on Feb. 3, 2021 in Park City, Utah.


Whether he’s operating high above the slopes on skis or at the controls of an aircraft, Justin Schoenefeld has always been comfortable in the air.

The ease with which he soars above it all has made Schoenefeld one of the top U.S. aerials skiers, and an ideal person to discuss the Olympic debut of the sport’s mixed team event at next month’s Winter Games in Beijing.

“I am pretty comfortable in the air,” Schoenefeld, who will also be making his Olympic debut in Beijing, acknowledged. “I’m not really comfortable with cliffs, though, or bridges or high-rise buildings. I don’t know why. I kind of have a weird fear of heights. But if I have my snow skis on, I’m totally cool with standing on the edge of a cliff.”

He's also at home flying airplanes. Within the past two years, he has earned his private pilot’s license and his instrument rating. He hopes to fly commercially one day.

“Flying an airplane, I’m totally comfortable being up 10,000 feet,” Schoenefeld said. “I knew for a long time that I wanted to be a pilot.”

For now, however, the 23-year-old Schoenefeld’s only focus is Beijing, where he’ll be competing in the individual event and possibly the historic first Olympic mixed team event.

Mixed teams feature three jumpers, at least one man and one woman. All three competitors do two jumps, and their scores are then combined. 

Last month, Schoenefeld anchored the U.S. team — which also included Winter Vinecki and Chris Lillis — to a second-place finish at a world cup stop in Ruka, Finland.

The U.S. took the bronze medal in the mixed team discipline at the world championships in Kazakhstan last March, though Schoenefeld wasn’t on that team. The Russian Ski Federation earned the gold medal and Switzerland took home the silver medal.

“I think it’s super exciting to achieve something as a team,” Schoenefeld said. “I grew up swimming, and I was always on relay teams, and celebrating with your team after a victory is always definitely more fun, I think, than winning by yourself. Being able to potentially win a gold medal (as) a team … would be awesome.”

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.
Team USA logo

Follow Us


United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee
  • Accessibility
  • Finance , opens in a new tab
  • Governance , opens in a new tab
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Site Map

© 2023 United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee. All Rights Reserved.