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Indiana's Justin Schoenefeld makes Hoosier history in inaugural mixed team aerials event at Winter Olympics

The Lawrenceburg native nailed Team USA's final jump to top China for the gold medal in Beijing.

BEIJING, China — The Americans have won gold in the Olympics’ first mixed team aerials event, giving the U.S. its first medals in the freestyle skiing discipline in a dozen years.

The trio of Ashley Caldwell, Christopher Lillis and Indiana's Justin Schoenefeld each earned their first Winter Games medals. Lillis’ back double full-full-double full was given the highest score of any trick in the finals, and the U.S. title was assured when Schoenefeld followed with a clean back double full-full-full.

The 28-year-old Caldwell, a 2017 world champion, is in her fourth Olympics but has never finished higher than 10th. She and the 23-year-old Schoenefeld, who lives in Lawrenceburg, have been dating for about three years.

Schoenefeld is the first Indiana Olympian to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

Two-time medalist Jia Zongyang cost China a chance at gold when he flipped forward on his landing, and the host country settled for silver. Canada won bronze.

The U.S. hadn’t medaled in aerials since 2010, when Jeret Peterson won silver in the men’s event. The last Americans to win gold were Eric Bergoust and Nikki Stone in 1998.

RELATED: How to watch Indiana's Nick Goepper go for gold in Freestyle Skiing

The mixed team event made its debut at these Games. Each country gets three jumpers and can’t use more than two per gender. All six countries in the finals went with two men and one woman.

Schoenefeld, 23, is competing in his first Olympics and earned a spot on the U.S. Ski Team after getting three wins on the NorAm tour in 2018. In 2021, he competed in the World Championships and finished 17th in the aerials.

He is also competing in the Freestyle Skiing Men's Aerials, in which qualifications start Tuesday, Feb. 15 at 6 a.m. ET.

Dave Schoenefeld, Justin's uncle, shared with 13News the video below of his kids waking up Thursday morning to watch their family member in the mixed team aerials event.

Getting to know Justin

  1. When Justin isn't flying in the air, he enjoys fly fishing, playing guitar, and golfing.
  2. Justin earned his private pilots' license, finished his instrument training, and can't wait to start his commercial rating.

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