Format: Aerials is the event at which you'll find about 16,000 jaws drop every time a skier flies off a ramp, soaring four stories above the ground into a series of mid-air spins and twists. The Olympic aerial format consists of a two-jump elimination followed by a two-jump final. Aerialists are divided into two groups based on their World Cup rankings, with lower seeds jumping first. The combined scores from the two jumps in the elimination round determine which 12 men and 12 women advance to the finals. Scores from the elimination round do not carry over to the finals. The finals consist of two jumps. The highest total score from the final is the winner.
Glossary: Birani -- In aerials, one front flip with a half-twist; Double full full full -- Three flips with four twists. Two twists on the first flip, right off the jump; Double layout or Lay-lay -- Two flips in the layout position; Double somersault -- Two flips; Full double full -- Two flips with three twists, with a double flip in the second twist; Full double full full -- Three flips with four twistsFull double full tuck -- Three flips with three twists; the second flip has two twists; Full full full -- Three flips with three twists; Full tuck full -- Three flips with two twists; the second flip is without a twist; Half full half -- Three flips with two twists; Half randy full -- Three flips with five twists; Half rudy full -- A triple backflip, the first with a half-twist, 11/2 in the second and a full twist in the third; Lay full full -- A double-twisting triple flip; Lay lay full -- Triple flip, first two in layout position, third laid out with a twist; Randy -- A flip with 21/2 twists; Rudy -- A flip with 11/2 twists; Slapback -- A landing in which the jumper goes to his or her back before skiing away; Tuck -- Body position in which the knees are pulled into the body.
U.S. team: Men: Eric Bergoust, 32, Missoula, Mont.; Brian Currutt, 27, Park City, Utah; Joe Pack, 23, Park City, Utah. Women: Emily Cook, 22, Belmont, Mass.; Tracy Evans, 34, Park City, Utah; Brenda Petzold, 28, Andover, Mass.
Medal watch: Bergoust, who holds the top three scores in aerials history, will be the man to beat with stiff challenges coming from the top Canadians and possibly Alexei Grichin of Belarus, who finished second to Bergoust on the World Cup tour this year. Australian Jacqui Cooper has been the best female aerialist in the world for some time. She is the only woman to have completed a full full full. Cooper learned to ski in Colorado.
Predictions: Bergoust, the defending Olympic and World Cup champion, could end up in a head-to-head battle with his younger teammate, Joe Pack, a hometown favorite from Park City who has won the bronze in the past two world championships. Both could end up on the podium, although Pack has struggled this winter. The American women are going through a rebuilding period and aren't legitimate medal contenders. Emily Cook was a possible medal contender before suffering a dislocated ankle in Lake Placid last month. Cooper, the Australian, does well on the World Cup circuit but tends to fall on her face in major events like the World Championships and Olympics. She was the favorite in Nagano, but suffered a horrible crash on her second jump and finished 23rd. Keep an eye on Belarus' Alla Tsuper, this season's World Cup leader.
-- Scripps Howard News Service