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Photos provided by Jon Lillis
Anything freestyle skier Jon Lillis might have won at the Olympics could not have replaced what he's lost.
Maybe that's why there were no tears, and no regrets, about finishing in eighth place in aerials Sunday night.
Lillis' 17-year-old brother, Mikey, who was also an aerials jumper, died in his sleep three months ago while Jon was practicing in October at a training camp in Switzerland.
In Sunday's final, Lillis cinched up Mikey's old jumping suit, headed to the top of the mountain and put on a show for his mom and dad and brother, Chris, who were at the bottom watching through their tears.
The last three months have been a blur, Lillis conceded. But nothing about that held him back on his way to the Olympics.
``If anything, it's a charge,'' he said. ``You have to use the good moments in your life to inspire you and prove you can do your best, and you have to use the lowest moments of your life to push you even harder.''
Lillis is the 2017 world champion _ and in Olympic qualifying on Saturday, he finished first. So, no, it's no surprise that he's here.
``But if you asked anyone at the end of October what they thought my year was going to be like, they might have said I'd have a downward spiral and I wouldn't be here and I'd be too sad to go out and do this,'' he said. ``The fact I came out here and gave it my all is something I can be really proud of.''
Certainly, Mikey would have agreed, right?
``He would've thought it was the coolest thing ever,'' Lillis said.