Former World Cup champion Mac Bohonnon and reigning world champion Jon Lillis are Team USA’s top medal contenders.
Bohonnon has a special plan for the super final if he were to make it in. He plans to honor aerials skier Jeret “Speedy” Peterson. Bohonnon has been working on Peterson’s trick known as the “Hurricane.” Peterson, who passed away in 2011, is the only one to ever land the jump in a competition. He was the last men’s aerial skier to medal for the United States, earning a silver in 2010 by landing his infamous “Hurricane.”
In aerials, a popular combination performed by the men is a variation of three flips with five twists. The “Hurricane” is a variation of this. What makes it so hard is that three of the twists are in the middle flip. It forces Bohonnon to pull his hands in and create massive torque to twist in time, hence the name “Hurricane.” After spinning really fast, Bohonnon must slow himself for the last flip and land cleanly.
In Sochi, Bohonnon placed fifth. He is the only returning American in men’s aerials for the U.S.
Lillis has waited a long time to make his Olympic debut. He was left off the team in 2014 despite meeting the criteria. He has finished in the top ten of the World Cup rankings in three consecutive seasons.
Lillis will be competing with a heavy heart after his younger brother suddenly passed away four months ago. His brother, Mikey, was also an up-and-comer aerials competitor. After returning to competition, Lillis channeled his grief into a sense of fearlessness that allowed him to land some of the most difficult tricks in the sport. Lillis’ middle brother, Chris, was also an Olympic hopeful but tore his ACL right before the Olympics.
Eric Loughran is the third American competing in the event. He began competing on the World Cup circuit in 2017. He had seven top-10 finishes this past year and finished the season ranked 11th overall.
Anton Kushnir, Belarus, attempts to defend his Olympic title. It is Kushnir’s fourth Olympics. Outside of Belarus, many of the favorites come from China and Russia.