Americans finish up NorAm Cup aerials |

Americans finish up NorAm Cup aerials

Team USA s Chris Lillis lands a jump during a World Cup event at Deer Valley earlier this year. Lillis finished first and second in Saturday s two North American Cup aerials competitions at the Utah Olympic Park.

The prospect of windy, rainy weather on Sunday made for a busy Saturday for the North American Cup aerialists.

Two days of competitions were scheduled at the Utah Olympic Park, but instead, the event officials decided to squeeze two contests in on Saturday to avoid Sunday’s weather.

For the athletes, that meant a scramble to tweak their competition plans to the new schedule. American Chris Lillis said it wasn’t too much of a problem, but adjustments were made.

"The weather was supposed to be pretty rough on Sunday, so for safety reasons they decided to hold two events on Saturday," he said. "It definitely ups the workload for the day. I did change my jumps just slightly. We also changed the format, so I ended up doing a different variation of triple-twisting triples."

Though having two competitions in one day isn’t ideal, Lillis said it was important for him and the other young athletes to have as many jumps as possible.

"NorAms are really about every athlete getting the chance to show their stuff, especially in front of the U.S. coaches and whatnot," he said.

Lillis won the first men’s competition with a score of 106.51 to best second-place Nik Seemann (99.56). Lewis Irving of Canada finished third.

In the second men’s contest, Seemann landed a jump worth 111.95 points to defeat Lillis’s second-place score of 102.46. Irving again finished third.

In the first women’s contest, Megan Nick finished first with a jump of 73.40 points. Winter Vinecki earned second place with a jump of 71.05 points. Kira Tanghe finished in third place.

In the second women’s contest, Vinecki landed on top of the podium with a jump of 69.89 points. Megan Smallhouse finished second with a total score of 68.34. Tanghe again finished third.

Both Lillis and Vinecki claimed the NorAm season titles with their performance at the UOP. Though Lillis won a World Cup contest in Belarus last month, he said winning the NorAm Cup is still a big deal.

"I couldn’t have been happier with how the day shook out," he said. "I wanted to come out of the day with the NorAm tour title and the first and second [finishes] allowed me to do that. It’s all very important to me. I’m very happy about it. Had I not won the World Cup like I did, I would have been back here and it would have been a very big event for me. But any event where I can go out and be consistent is definitely well-appreciated."

Lillis also got to compete alongside his younger brother, Michael, who earned a pair of top-10 finishes.

"Watching him play out his strategy and jump to his ability was nice," Lillis said. "He’ll be kicking my butt in a couple years."

The final event on the schedule for the nation’s top aerialists is U.S. Nationals, which will be held in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, March 18-20. Lillis said he’s excited to compete against some of his World Cup teammates, including his older brother Jonathon, again.

"Definitely coming out on top would be a great honor," he said. "That’s the goal. If I could do that, it would be a great finish for the season. The World Cup [victory] not only raised the bar, but it also motivated me. Maybe if I hadn’t won, I would have had my expectations [for Nationals] set a little lower, but [winning] is certainly the goal now."

The aerials competition at U.S. Freestyle Nationals will be held on Saturday, March 19. The mogul championships will be held Friday and dual moguls will be contested on Sunday.

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