Caldwell, Lillis, Schoenfeld Win Mixed Team Aerials Gold
Ashley Caldwell, Justin Schoenfeld, and Chris Lillis made Olympic history Thursday, Feb. 10 as the first trio to ever win a Mixed Team event Olympic Gold.
The competition has already made its rounds on the World Cup circuit but made its Olympic debut in Beijing 2022, and the team knew what they had to do if they wanted to come out on top ahead of the veteran Chinese team. Each athlete needed to perform to their highest degree of difficulty.
Lillis, 23, threw down a near-perfect quintuple twisting triple, earning him 135 points, the highest score of the night at the Secret Garden Olympic Aerials course. He ran second. With Caldwell's jump already in the bag scoring an 88.89, the pair patiently awaited on Schoenfeld to see if they could pull out the win.
"We knew that he just needed to put down a solid jump that he does every single day in training and then we'd end up with the gold medal," said Lillis. "Ashley and I were just sitting there on pins and needles just waiting for that moment to come and honestly, I knew it was gonna happen. I was fully prepared to freak out the second that he put it down."
Schoenfeld stomped his back double full full full, securing the first Olympic medal for the United States aerials team since 2010.
"I honestly tried not to think about that that was the final jump that could potentially win for my team," said Schoenfeld. "I tried to keep my cool and do what I needed to do."
This is Caldwell's fourth Olympics, but her first Olympic medal. It is also the first Olympic medal for a female aerialist since Nikki Stone in 1998.
"I feel incredible. It's almost dream-like," reflected Caldwell. "We were all very anxious and excited to compete tonight, and there were a lot of pre-competition jitters, but we did exactly what we needed to do, alongside my boyfriend and best friend."
Mixed Team aerials final