Aerialist Ashley Caldwell: ‘I’ve got more Olympics in me’

 


Ashley Caldwell falls during the women’s aerials finals (EPA/JENS BUETTNER)

Ashley Caldwell posted the highest score of the women’s aerials competition, but it came in the qualifying round, not when she needed it most. In the finals, Caldwell failed to land her triple somersault, finishing in 10th place and delaying her dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal by at least four years.

“I’ve got some more Olympics in me,” said the 20-year old Virginia native. “Definitely some more tricks. I have a lot of room to grow, that’s for sure.”

Caldwell nailed her qualifying jump earlier Friday, earning a score of 101.25. But the finals are a single-elimination format. There’s no room for error and one bad landing knocks a competitor out of the competition. “There’s no second chances in the finals round,” Caldwell said.

She attempted a triple somersault — pike position on the first flip, tuck on the second and a twist on the third. Her feet rotated a tad too much and she struggled with the landing. “Unfortunately, I drug my hands and touched my butt to the snow,” she said, “which does not earn you a lot of points in our sport.”

“Just to be at the Olympics is an awesome experience,” she added. “I’m bummed, but it’s been a really fun experience.”

The Sochi Games marked Caldwell’s second Olympics. She missed a full two years of training since the Vancouver Games, though, after tearing the anterior cruciate ligaments in both knees. She hopes with a healthy stretch to properly train and grow, she can do even better the next time she sets foot on an Olympic stage.

“It’s tough,” she said. “The Olympics is like the capstone of our careers, but it’s not our entire career. … At the end of the day, we’re training every day and you have to love it for that reason. Right now, I’m not super stoked, but I come out there every day and I’m happy to be jumping and to be healthy. That’s what’ll come up, hopefully, after I’m done being sad.”

 

Rick Maese is a sports features writer for The Washington Post.
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