Hanna Huskova, Zhang Xin land clean jumps in final for 1-2 finish

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- Hanna Huskova survived the tricky wind at Phoenix Snow Park to give Belarus a second straight Olympic gold medal in women's aerials.

The 25-year-old Huskova narrowly edged Zhang Xin in tricky conditions that wreaked havoc with much of the 12-woman field. Huskova nailed her final jump, a double-twisting back layout, and posted a score of 96.14, just ahead of Zhang's 95.52.

"The jumps that I did, I did with calm and with patience," Huskova said. "I was aiming at the wind today."

Kong Fanyu took bronze on a sloppy night, giving China two medals in Friday's event. Huskova and Zhang were the only two women in the finals to land all three of their jumps cleanly.

Belarus has long been a force in the men's aerials, winning at least one medal in each of the last five Winter Games, with Anton Kushnir in the mix to defend the gold he won in Sochi when the men's competition starts on Saturday.

The women's program is gaining ground on the guys behind the 25-year-old Huskova and the seemingly ageless Alla Tsuper, who came in fourth in her sixth trip to the Olympics.

Tsuper, a 38-year-old mother of two who won gold for Belarus at the 2014 Sochi Games, attempted the most difficult jump of the night, a triple-twisting back flip, but she tumbled forward on the landing and slid face-first down the hill with just one ski attached.

"(Alla and I) stood as one and had ambitious goals to see gold, silver and bronze medal go to Belarus," Huskova said. "It was not to be but nonetheless I am very proud of every one and we did everything we could."

Huskova and Zhang landed all three of their jumps, enough to claim the top two spots on the podium during a competition when every three-second leap into the South Korean sky was an iffy proposition at best.

"First of all I'm very happy of course because all these years of hard work is paying off but still with regret, really big regret because our initial intention was to get the gold medal," Zhang said. "So really it's regretful that we missed it."

China now has seven Olympic medals in the event, but none are gold.

Laura Peel of Australia was fifth, and American rival Madison Olsen was sixth. Olsen's attempt at giving the U.S. women their first Olympic medal in the event in 20 years ended when her back slid into the hill while landing her final jump.

Gold medal favorite Xu Mengtao of China washed out in the second round and failed to advance to the finals. China now has seven medals in the event since it made its Olympic debut in 1994, but no golds.

Winds swirled throughout the competition, starting off from left to right before moving directly into the face of the skiers as they went down the hill at speeds upward of 30 mph. Coaches would hold them for several moments at the top of the hill waiting for the wind to calm down enough to attempt anything close to a "safe" jump.

It's the second competition at the Snow Park to have wind issues. During the women's snowboard slopestyle final on Sunday, when only nine of the 50 runs were completed without any significant errors.