Fifth time lucky for Tsuper trooper as mums net medals
Gold Medallist, Belarus' Alla Tsuper competes in the Women's Freestyle Skiing Aerials finals at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 14, 2014 - by Javier Soriano
The Belarussian had never before won a medal in four previous attempts and was ranked only 13th in the World Cup standings coming into the Olympics.
Yet the 34-year-old was the only athlete to land perfectly in the final four shoot out and she edged out world champion Xu Mengtao of China into silver with Australia's reigning Olympic champion Lydia Lassila taking bronze.
Tsuper's gold medal ensured this would be the most successful Winter Games in Belarus's history.
It also meant that there were two mothers on the medal podium as both Tsuper and Lassila, 32, have had children since the last Olympics.
And Tsuper believes that being older has helped them focus on their discipline.
"We know what we want and we just go for it," she said.
Tsuper actually stopped competing for a couple of years following the last Games and she admitted she had thought she would never win an Olympic medal.
"I did feel like that for a moment in Vancouver after I made it to the final and didn't get a medal (she came fifth).
"I thought that was it but then I had a break for two years, I had my daughter and then I was offered the chance to have another go. I started training and I did very well."
Lassila said she was delighted for her fellow mother.
"I'm so happy for Alla, I really love this girl. She's a great competitor, she's been around for a long time," said the Australian.
"We've pretty much come up together because we're pretty much the same age.
"She's continued to push herself, she's been through some rough patches, she's had a lot to go through as well.
"We're both mums, I know what she's going through and she knows what I've gone through to be here and to be the best we can be.
"She jumped her heart out all this week, and tonight, and is so deserving of this medal."
Tsuper only sneaked into the final by the skin of her teeth as the 12th, and last, qualifier by the most remarkably small margin of just 0.03 of a point over world number two Zhang Xin of China.
In a strange competition the highest score of the day came in the opening heat from American Ashley Caldwell, who managed a whopping 101.25.
Yet she failed to make the top eight in the first run of the final and was eliminated.
Xu posted the best score of the final of 101.08 but it was in the second run.
When it came to the 'super' final, world number one Li Nina crashed badly on her landing, all but ruling her out of medal contention, before Lassila also lost balance on her jump and then Xu touched down with her hands.
One fillip for Lassila, though, was that she performed the first ever full-double-full-full by a woman.