Kiley McKinnon is first athlete to qualify for U.S. Olympic aerials team

Kiley McKinnon

The U.S. aerials team has added its first member.

Kiley McKinnon, 22, will be going to her first Olympics. Her inclusion became official after the conclusion of Friday night’s World Cup event at Deer Valley, which served as an Olympic qualifier for the U.S. team.

McKinnon finished just eighth in the competition but was able to mathematically confirm her spot on the team based on her results in earlier selection events.

Last week, she notched the first World Cup win of her career at a competition in Moscow. She also had a second-place finish at a qualifier last year.

With just two selection events left for the U.S. aerials team, McKinnon is now locked into one of the automatic qualifying spots.

Up to four women and four men will ultimately be named to the team.

McKinnon was a gymnast for a number of years before her childhood friend, Mac Bohonnon, recruited her to the aerials team. Bohonnon, who finished fifth at the Sochi Olympics, is one of the top athletes on the men’s team and is expected to be named to the 2018 Olympic team as well.

After picking up the sport quickly, McKinnon won the World Cup title in 2015, just her third full season on the tour. She also won a silver medal at the world championships that year and will be considered a medal contender at the PyeongChang Olympics.

China’s Xu Mengtao, the 2014 Olympic silver medalist, won Friday’s competition at Deer Valley and will be one of top medal favorites in PyeongChang.

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