Michael Rossi couldn't have stopped smiling if he tried.

In front of his parents, two sets of aunts and uncles, and a younger cousin, the Park City aerial skier found himself on the podium for the first time in his young career on Friday night at the FIS Freestyle World Cup event at Deer Valley, jumping his way to a third-place finish.

This is the 18-year-old skier's first full season on the World Cup tour, so he wasn't expecting to earn a podium finish so quickly.

"I still consider myself a rookie of the sport," he said. "I have a World Cup podium? It still hasn't set in yet."

Rossi moved from Long Valley, N.J., to Park City in 2008 to pursue an aerial career.

"I had a trampoline in my backyard and I used to go out there and just do flips every day, and it's translated so well to aerials," he said. "I came out to Park City in the summer and tried out the water ramps. I ended up loving it and moved out to Park City the next year."

With his first World Cup medal under his belt, the sky is the limit for the young athlete. Now, Rossi will focus on trying to win his first gold.

"I know what I'm capable of," he said. "I'm just glad I was able to throw it down in front of the home crowd."

Maxim Gustik of Belarus earned first place and Travis Gerrits from Canada won second.

On the women's side, China's Mengtao Xu won first. Laura Peel of Australia and Xin Zhang of China took second and third, respectively.


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Rossi's U.S. teammates and fellow Parkites Emily Cook and Dylan Ferguson did not qualify for the superfinal round of four after strong performances in the round of 12.