Mixed Team Aerials: Everything You Need To Know Before Watching

At the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, the world will get to witness the debut of a freestyle skiing event known as mixed team aerials. This form of freestyle skiing may be new to the Olympic Games, but it has been part of the FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup since the 2014-2015 season (via the Olympic Games). Mixed team aerials is one of seven new Winter Olympic events, which are part of an effort to improve overall gender balance in the competitors at the games, according to the International Olympic Committee. The other new skiing events are mixed team ski jumping, women's big air skiing, men's big air skiing, and mixed team snowboard cross.

The sport of aerials has been described as a mashup of ski jumping and gymnastics by Team USA. Competitors travel down a ramp looking to get enough height to have time to complete a series of flips and twists before landing. In this new event, each team has three members, with at least one woman and one man. The third skier can be either male or female. The scores of the individual team members are combined to form a team total, and the team with the overall best score wins the gold. At least eight teams are expected to compete in this first-time event at the Olympics.

How judges score aerial events

Each skier will be scored on a bunch of different elements in the aerials event. According to NBC, a panel of five judges watch each performance for three things: air, form, and landing. Air makes 20% of the total score, and the judges are looking for two things in this category: take-off as well as height and distance. They rate the skier's technical skills in his or her take-off, giving more or less points depending on the performance. Judges also look at how high the skier goes and how far the skier travels.

Form makes up 50% of the skier's total score. This category focuses on how the individual performs his or her maneuvers, with more points going toward precise execution, proper timing, and visible control and stability in the air. The judges also factor in the degree of difficulty of the skier's moves. According to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team, there are many nicknames for aerial tricks, including the "Full," which means one flip and one twist, and the "Randy," which means one flip and two and a half twists.

To get a great score, the skiers want to do the most complex aerials without falling. Because even if the skier pulls off some great flips and twists, a bad landing can tank a performance. That's why the landing makes up 30% of the score. Judges look at whether any part of the skier's body makes contact with the ground and whether the skier seems balanced on landing.

Leading skiers in the mixed team aerials

Teams from around the world will compete at Beijing's Genting Snow Park. Some of the favorites include the Russian trio of Anastasiia Prytkova, Maxim Burov, and Pavel Krotov, who took home gold at the World Cup held in January 2021 (via FIS Ski). Switzerland took the silver with its team of Carol Bouvard, Pirmin Werner, and Noe Roth. The bronze went to the American team of Ashley Caldwell, Eric Loughran, and Justin Schoenefeld.

By the following December, however, there was a bit of shakeup at the podium. The Chinese team of Mengtao Xu, Jiaxu Sun, and Guangpu Qi won gold at the World Cup in Finland (via FSI Ski). The American team of Winter Vinecki, Christopher Lillis, and Justin Schoenefeld came in second for a silver win. And Ukraine took the bronze with its team of Anastasiya Novosad, Dmytro Kotovskyi, and Oleksandr Abramenko. For American skier Winter Vinecki, it was only her second team event and "it was super-exciting to end on a high note here in Finland" (via Team USA). It will definitely be exciting to see which of these mixed team aerials skiers will win the gold at the Olympic Games in Beijing.