Watch: Kiernan Fagan of Frisco wins big air silver medal at Youth Olympics
18-year-old brings home pair of medals from Switzerland
FRISCO — What a birthday week it was for Frisco resident Kiernan Fagan at the Lausanne 2020 Youth Winter Olympic Games in Switzerland.
In the wake of turning 18 on Saturday, the Maine native followed up his slopestyle gold medal from earlier this week with a strong silver medal showing in big air Wednesday.
Fagan said he woke up at 5 a.m. Wednesday super sore with his back hurting after the effort he put forth to win the slopestyle gold Monday. Despite the pain, Fagan embraced the low-wind, warm conditions on a modest-sized big air jump that had a bit of a flat landing, which softened up as the day wore on.
“But I was definitely trying not to think about the pain when dropping in,” Fagan said. “I thought, ‘I’ll send the biggest tricks no matter what, to try to get it done.'”
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In the morning qualifiers, Fagan opted for one of his smaller big air tricks, one he knew could get him through to finals. It also happened to be a trick he landed on the slopestyle jumps two days prior en route to gold: a switch double-cork 1260 with a mute grab, which includes two inversions and 3 1/2 horizontal rotations. The trick put him in fifth, or middle of the pack for the finals, which scored each skier’s best two tricks over the course of three runs.
In the finals, he began with a switch double-cork 1440 with a blunt grab, which requires holding the tail of a ski while inverting and rotating. The trick put Fagan in fourth place after the first round with a score of 88.75.
Heading into his second jump, Fagan knew he had to land something big if he wanted to end up on the podium again. That said, he felt the jump might be too small to effectively get around a triple cork. Despite that, Fagan said he got amped up by his freeski friends Ben Harrington, a New Zealander who lives with the Fagan family in Frisco, and Eileen Gu, a Chinese phenom who won two golds in Lausanne.
“They were like hyping me up at the top (of the jump), all playing music and getting me fired up for my run,” Fagan said. “Ben came into the start gate with me, music all the way up. That was the most fired up before a contest I’ve ever been. So much energy going on.”
Fagan then stomped the triple-cork 1440 with a mute grab and earned the second-highest single-trick score of the competition: a 94.25. Fagan, the only skier to land a triple cork Wednesday, won the silver with a combined score of 183.00. Gold medalist Matej Svancer of the Czech Republic won with a combined score of 186.00.
Afterward, Fagan accepted his second medal before racing back to the Olympic stadium for the closing ceremonies, where he hung out with fellow freeskiers and silver medalist American hockey players as they basked in the Youth Olympic glory.
“The triple (cork), that was the highlight of the whole trip,” Fagan said. “Being able to land that was great because I was definitely pretty scared to do it.”
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