By Blythe Lawrence | March 02, 2019, 11:18 a.m. (ET)

Ashley Caldwell competes in Women's Aerials Qualifications at the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup 2019 on Jan. 19, 2019 in Lake Placid, NY.

 

Aerial Olympians Eric Loughran and Ashley Caldwell made their first world cup podiums of the season in style with a pair of third-place finishes Saturday at China’s Shimao Lotus Mountain, just south of Guangzhou.

Loughran, a 2018 Olympian, thrilled the crowd — and himself — at the base of the mountain with the first podium finish of his career, executing a series of celebratory fist pumps after landing a clean back full double full full for 123.45 points. 

His score came behind China’s aerial specialists Sun Jiaxu, the 2019 world silver medalist in men’s aerials, and 2018 Olympian Wang Xindi. All three skiers executed the same jumps, though judges deemed Sun’s form the best, awarding him 126.11 points out of the possible 132.75.

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Seven months removed from shoulder surgery for an injury sustained during practice at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, gymnast-turned-aerial-skier Caldwell opted not to go for one of her celebrated triple jumps, relying instead on a back full double full that received 81.78 out of a maximum 105.75 points.

Despite having to touch her hands on a slightly overcooked landing, Caldwell’s effort was good enough for third, her first world cup podium finish since 2017. Australian Olympian Laura Peel landed a tidy full double full for 96.58 points and the title, followed by China’s Xu Sicun, whose simple but impeccable back lay full netted her 81.78 points. Sicun narrowly beat out Caldwell for second via tiebreaker.

Caldwell finished a respectable fifth at last month’s world championships in Park City, Utah.

Blythe Lawrence is a journalist based in Seattle. She has covered two Olympic Games and is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.