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Lillis Podiums, Tanner Named Aerials Rookie of the Year

By Ryan Odeja - Stifel U.S. Ski Team
March, 10 2024
The Stifel U.S. Freestyle Ski Team aerials athletes on the podium after winning the 2023-24 Nations Cup
The Stifel U.S. Freestyle Ski Team aerials athletes on the podium after winning the 2023-24 Nations Cup. (Andrey Kulagin).

Chris Lillis capped off the 2023-24 aerials World Cup circuit third on the podium on the day and third in the overall season standings. 

The Stifel U.S. Freestyle Ski Team aerials athletes took on the final World Cup of the season today in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Things took an unexpected turn as intense fog rolled in, causing results to be based on the qualification round. 

All five U.S. women and two men were set to compete in today’s finals, with Chris Lillis and Tasia Tanner leading the way in third and fifth, respectively. Lillis completed an excellent back full double full full, besting some of the greats, including overall silver medalist Pirmin Werner of Switzerland. Connor Curran landed just outside the top five in sixth. Derek Krueger finished 22nd.

Tanner executed a technically proficient back lay full on the women’s side to put herself in fifth place. Karenna Elliott was not far behind in seventh, followed by Kaila Kuhn in eighth, Winter Vinecki in 10th and Megan Smallhouse in 11th. 

In a typical competition, many athletes save their higher-difficulty tricks for later rounds to secure themselves a spot in finals by perfecting their easier skills early on. This choice had a big impact in today’s competition due to the cancelation of finals. Athletes who chose to perform harder skills in qualifying, such as Marion Thenault of Canada, were automatically in a better position in today’s scenario. 

The most significant impact of today’s format change was regarding the overall aerials Crystal Globe. Heading into the final competition, Winter Vinecki led the standings by just 12 points ahead of Australia's Danielle Scott. Vinecki qualified in 10th, while Scott was in second place, allowing Scott to take over the Crystal Globe. Although Vinecki did not finish on top, this was still a breakthrough season for her as one of the only women competing triples and consistently in contention for the top box in any competition. 

This season was also a breakthrough for Tasia Tanner, who was awarded the coveted FIS Rookie of the Year award. Her consistent performances and beautiful execution made her the obvious choice for this year's award. Tanner's results, along with every member of the team’s results, led the U.S. to win the overall aerials Nations Cup for the 2023-24 season. The award is an accumulation of the entire team’s results across the season compared to those of other nations.