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Kiley McKinnon all but seals Olympic aerials spot with first World Cup win

Kiley McKinnon was just about the most successful aerials skier without a World Cup win. Until Saturday.

McKinnon grabbed her first gold in her 36th career start after seven previous podium finishes. The 22-year-old’s victory in Moscow all but clinches her first Olympic berth.

In Saturday’s super final, McKinnon landed a triple-twisting double flip for 95.52 points.

She beat a field that included 2017 World champion Ashley Caldwell of the U.S. and 2014 Olympic champion Alla Tsuper of Belarus, a 38-year-old coming back this season after 3 1/2 years away from international competition.

“My strategy was to go out and have confidence in my jumping,” McKinnon said, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard. “I have been struggling with that recently and I wanted to prove to myself that I could put a solid jump down.

McKinnon won the 2015 World Cup title without any wins that season. She also placed second and fourth at the last two world championships.

McKinnon previously competed nine years in gymnastics, a sport requiring similar acrobatics as aerials.

She was recruited to aerials after the 2010 Olympics by Island Avenue Elementary School classmate Mac Bohonnon, who placed fifth in Sochi.

McKinnon was knocked out of contention to qualify for Sochi with a shoulder injury.

Now, McKinnon and Bohonnon should be going to PyeongChang as Olympic teammates.

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