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Jonathon Lillis leads qualifying for men's aerials final with highest score

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Jonathon Lillis of the United States competes during the Freestyle Skiing Men's Aerials Qualification on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Photo: Getty Images. PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 17: Jonathon Lillis of the United States competes during the Freestyle Skiing Men's Aerials Qualification on day eight of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park on February 17, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

February 17, 2018 07:46 AM

The men's aerials qualifying saw a very high level of jumps. In the first round, the bubble score was 124.34, and American Jonathon Lillis rose the occasion. He came into the Olympics ranked 10th in the world.

Lillis chose to attempt a quadruple-twisting triple back flip, a popular choice in the first round. He executed it perfectly. He had huge height and nailed the landing. He was rewarded with a score of 127.44. It ended up being the highest qualifying score of the night, so he will jump last in the final.

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Teammates Mac Bohonnon and Eric Loughran failed to qualify for the final. Bohonnon was considered a medal contender for the U.S. On his first jump, Bohonnon couldn't land his jump properly, landing too hard on his left ski. On his second jump, he executed the difficult back-full double-full full. However, on a day where the top six executed their jumps perfectly, it was not enough.

22-year-old Eric Loughran went for a difficult trick on his second jump and crashed hard into the snow. It was an all-or-nothing move that just didn't pay off. Loughran's highest score of the day was an 86.28.

Australia's David Morris had one of the more impressive jumps of the day. He had a high degree of difficulty of 4.525. He executed his back double-full full-full flawlessly in the air, earning him a 124.89.

Maxim Burov came into the Olympics leading the World Cup series this season. He had to pull off a perfect jump on his second run: He came close but couldn't stomp the landing. He attempted a back-full double-full full but landed deep and was deducted for the error. His final score of 117.65 was only good for ninth. He was quite angry after, throwing his skis after finding out his score.

One feel-good story came to an end: Lloyd Wallace was already celebrating just being able to compete in the Olympics. A month ago, he was put into a medically-induced coma after a horrible crash in training, where he caught an edge and was knocked unconscious. The incident erased five days of his memory.  He was the first British aerial skier to compete in the Olympics since the 1998 Nagano Games.

The last jump came down to reigning gold medalist Anton Kushnir. After a mistake on the first jump, he had to nail his second in order to qualify. In the air, Kushnir bent his legs, which left doubt. He landed perfectly, but the judges weren't satisfied. He earned a score of 121.27, which put him in seventh. The reigning gold medalist missed qualifying by an agonizing .45 points.  

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