Alexei Grishin salvaged Belarusian pride when he claimed the Olympic gold in the men’s aerials by beating American Jeret Peterson on Thursday.

Grishin, 30, took the gold after bronze in 2006 and fourth in 2006 with 248.41 points after compatriot and World Cup leader Anton Kushnir was surprisingly eliminated in the qualifying round.

Peterson, known as “Speedy,” got big points for his “Hurricane” jump with three flips and five twists, but having managed only fifth in the round, had to be content with silver on 247.21 points.

The bronze went to Liu Zhongqing of China with 242.53 points while first-round leader Kyle Grissin of Canada faded to fifth due to a mediocre landing as the final jumper.

“I still don’t really feel it because I am still a bit in shock,” said Grishin, who got gold nine years after winning the world title in nearby Whistler.

Looking at the second jump, he said: “I was up there and said to myself ‘you have to do it.’” He didn’t have the best points in either round of the 12-man final, but had two clean jumps. Second place in the first round and fourth best in the second were good enough for gold.

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