February 15, 2018 / 1:25 PM / in 8 months

Freestyle skiing - China, OAR, Belarus impress in aerials qualifying

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - China, Belarus and Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) dominated qualifying for the final of the women’s Olympic aerials at Phoenix Snow Park on Thursday.

Freestyle Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women's Aerials Qualifications - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 15, 2018. Olympic Athlete from Russia, Kristina Spiridonova reacts. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Those countries have eight of the 12 women who will compete in Friday’s final.

Olympic Athlete from Russia Alexandra Orlova recorded the highest score as she attempted a challenging back-lay-full-full that scored 102.22.

Her compatriots Kristina Spiridonova and Luibov Nikitina also progressed and OAR are yet to win a gold medal at the Games.

China have won Olympic silver in the women’s aerials four times without taking gold. World number one Mengtao Xu scored 99.37 in first qualifying to finish third and reach the final along with her compatriots Zhang Xin and Fanyu Kong.

Freestyle Skiing - Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics - Women's Aerials Training - Phoenix Snow Park - Pyeongchang, South Korea - February 15, 2018. Xu Mengtao of China during training. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Hanna Huskova of Belarus, ranked second in the world, eased through with a score of 100.45 to qualify in second place and Sochi gold medallist Alla Tsuper joined her compatriot in the final.

There was a scary moment at the beginning of the night when Kim Kyoungeun of South Korea landed awkwardly on her arm attempting the low difficulty back-lay.

Kim looked in pain and was in tears before waving to the home support and she landed her second jump much to the delight of the crowd.

Five-times Olympian Lydia Lassila of Australia failed to land the back-full-double-full and missed out on another final.

The 36-year-old, gold medallist in Vancouver eight years ago, looked dejected and is expected to retire after Pyeongchang.

Friday’s final begins at 2000 local time (1100GMT).

(The story was refiled to change the headline to say Freestyle skiing instead of Snowboarding)

Reporting by Jack Tarrant, editing by Ed Osmond

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