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    Taking flight: Ashburn native to compete in second Winter Olympics

    Ashley Caldwell executes an aerial maneuver during the 2011 U.S. Freestyle Nationals. Caldwell has been ranked as high as No. 3 in the world and recently placed second in a World Cup competition.—Photo Courtesy/Kirk Paulsen
    Ashley Caldwell

    -Hometown: Ashburn
    -Age: 20
    -Sport: Freestyle skiing
    -2010 Olympics: Finalist in ladies' aerials

    The XXII Olympic Winter Games will feature some local appeal as Ashburn native Ashley Caldwell is set to compete in the ladies' aerials as a member of the U.S. Ski Team.

    The 2014 Winter Olympics will take place Feb. 7 through Feb. 23 in Sochi, Russia. NBCUniversal – consisting of NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network and NBCOlympics.com – will provide more than 1,500 hours of coverage.

    Caldwell, 20, is making her second appearance in the Winter Olympics. As a 16-year-old, Caldwell qualified for the finals and placed 10th in the ladies' aerials at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

    Prior to freestyle skiing, Caldwell was a competitive gymnast for 11 years at APEX Gymnastics in Leesburg. She also competed favorably in multiple NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competitions at the home stadium of her favorite team, the Washington Redskins.

    Caldwell explained in her U.S. Ski Team bio that it was a smooth transition from gymnastics to aerials. “The strength and acrobatic skills I acquired as a gymnast really translated well into my skiing career."

    Following her first Olympic games, Caldwell continued her ascension as a world-class aerialist. She garnered silver medals at the 2010 and 2011 U.S. National Championships and held a No. 3 world ranking before a pair of major knee injuries derailed her from competition.

    Caldwell made a successful return to freestyle skiing in December of 2013. She placed second in her first World Cup event in more than two years. The podium finish helped Caldwell earn her second stint on the U.S. Olympic team.

    "I couldn't be happier about my results," Caldwell stated. "Returning from injury is tough and really nerve-wracking, but landing some nice jumps here has given me the confidence for the rest of this exciting World Cup season."

    Caldwell has now turned her focus to the Olympics. The ladies' aerials qualification and finals will be contested Feb. 14 in Sochi.

    "I feel very fortunate to be headed to my second Olympics," Caldwell noted. "I can’t wait to represent my country again."

    Ashley Caldwell displays her affinity for the Washington Redskins on her skis. The 20-year-old Ashburn native will aim to medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics.--Photo Courtesy/Sarah Brunson, U.S. Ski Team

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