What is the new freestyle skiing mixed team aerials event?

The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 will feature nine mixed events. One of them will be the new freestyle skiing mixed team aerials. But do you know what's involved? Find out everything you need to know before the competition makes its debut at Beijing 2022.

By Sheila Vieira
Picture by 2016 Getty Images

The mixed events have displayed some of the fiercest competition and most exciting storylines of the Olympic Winter Games. Beijing 2022 will feature nine of them – four new ones – including the only mixed event of freestyle skiing: mixed team aerials.

On 10 February 2022, the world will find out the names of the event's first Olympic medallists. The competition is sure to be an exciting battle that adds the component of team strategy to the technique and creativity of aerials.

Learn about the format, when and where to follow, what's new about the event and the athletes to watch in the mixed team aerials at Beijing 2022.

Jia Zongyang of China celebrates during the Freestyle Skiing Men's Aerials Final on day nine of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Freestyle skiing mixed team aerials format

Although the event is making its Olympic debut at Beijing 2022, the mixed team aerials event has been included in the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup programme since the 2014/15 season and in the FIS World Championships since 2019.

Each team consists of three skiers, with at least one of each gender. Therefore, the teams can choose if they want to have two men and one woman or the other way around. Their individual scores are added together and the team with the highest overall score wins. It’s as simple as it gets!

At Beijing 2022, all NOCs with at least one woman and one man eligible for the individual aerials competitions will have the opportunity to enter one trio for the mixed team aerials. The competition will consist of at least eight eligible teams.

When and where to follow the mixed team aerials at Beijing 2022

The mixed team aerials will take place on 10 February, with the first final at 19:00 local time. The second final starts at 19:50, deciding the event's first Olympic medallists.

Locals will be able to watch the mixed team aerials at the Genting Snow Park, the home of freestyle skiing and snowboard at Beijing 2022 (other than the big air events).

What’s new at the mixed team aerials? An Olympian explains

Unlike most mixed events, where the number of men and women competing are the same, the mixed team aerials event has the intriguing element of allowing teams to choose between having two women and one man or vice-versa.

Some might think all teams would choose to enter two men, but that hasn’t always been the case. Australia has won two medals at the World Cup with two women. In fact, entering two women can be a good strategy, depending on how the team is formed and the strengths of each skier.

“If you are looking for consistency, the girls doing doubles are very very consistent,” three-time Olympian Ashley Caldwell (USA) told TeamUsa.org.

Men’s tricks tend to be riskier, which might lead to a fall. In a team event, any mistake will put you out of contention for medals. On the other hand, taking risks is essential to win any freestyle skiing event. It’s up to each team to decide how to best balance their talents.

Ashley Caldwell of the United States reacts ahead of the Freestyle Skiing Ladies' Aerials Qualification on day six of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Who to look out for?

It takes a very strong team to win the mixed team aerials, and a few NOCs will head to Beijing 2022 as favourites. ROC are a top contender after winning the World Championship this year, with Liubov Nikitina, Pavel Krotov and Maxim Burov – the world champion in the individual event in 2019 and 2021 – among their ranks.

ROC also took bronze in 2019 – with Nikitina and Burov on the team – and have seven medals at the World Cup in the mixed team event.

Switzerland are an emerging force, taking gold (2019) and silver (2021) in the last two World Championships. Carol Bouvard and Noé Roth competed in both tournaments, with Pirmin Werner replacing Nicolas Gygax this year.

Last but definitely not least, you should never underestimate the People’s Republic of China, particularly at home. All the Chinese freestyle skiing Olympic medals have come in aerials (one gold, four silvers and six bronzes).

XU Mengtao is a strong candidate to make the experienced Chinese team. She is an Olympic silver medallist (Sochi 2014), world champion (2013) and three-time World Cup winner (2018, 2019 and 2020).

JIA Zongyang – men's aerials bronze medallist at Sochi 2014 and silver medallist at PyeongChang 2018 – and two-time world champion (2013, 2015) QI Guangpu could also join the efforts to secure the first mixed aerials Olympic gold for the hosts.

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