By Sportswriter Li Jia
SOCHI, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- China failed to win the women's aerials gold medal at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games Friday as world champion Xu Mengtao had to settle for silver and two-time Olympic runner-up Li Nina finished fourth.
It was the fourth silver China has won in the women's aerials as Li Nina took the silver in the past two Winter Olympics and Xu Nannan finished second in 1998 Winter Olympics.
"I was not disappointed," said China's coach Ji Dong. "We had the chance, but we didn't have enough luck."
Fifth-time Olympian Alla Tsuper of Belarus shocked a top draw field to win the title with 98.01 points, while Xu, who performed a three-twist jump with a minor error on her landing, scored 83.50.
Defending champion Lydia Lassila of Australia failed to land a four-twist jump and took the bronze in 72.12. Hot favorite Li botched her landing with a 3.9 difficulty degree jump and missed the podium with 46.02.
Tsuper, 34, had never before won a medal in four previous Olympic attempts and was ranked only 13th in the World Cup standings coming into the Olympics. She took over Chinese Cheng Shuang to make the last final.
"The gold medalist is a veteran who had been famous in the 1990s," said Ji. "It took her so many years to win the gold, so for the Chinese team, we will wait for our chance."
"Maybe we will be lucky enough in 2022 if Beijing can host the Winter Olympic Games," he said.
Xu was obviously unsatisfied with her first Olympic medal.
"I am happy indeed, but it is a shame because I didn't win the gold medal. This is the fourth silver medal China has won at the Olympic Winter Games (in aerials)," said 23-year-old.
"Before the competition we all wanted to get a gold medal, but I didn't get the chance."
Xu, who led the second final with a stunning 101.08, struggled to complete her last jump. "My arm hurts and I cannot straighten it," she said. "I tried to land straight but I didn't succeed. There was something wrong with my judgement. I didn't quite get used to the slope here because it is steeper than what we have in the U.S. where we train."
Li, who was competing in her fourth Olympics, accepted the fourth-finish calmly.
"Many of my friends told me whether I win the gold or not, I am already a winner for them, and I think that is enough," Li said.
The Sochi Games is her last Olympics. "My father will beat me if I continue skiing like that. A lot of girls in my age have already had babies," she said, jokingly.
Lassila back-slapped while trying to land a quad-twist jump which no woman had ever attempted in competition. The 32-year-old was in tears after the final.
"I really feel like I've reached my potential," she said. "I wanted to do something new in the final."