By Nick Butler

Qi Guangpu defended his men's world title on the opening day of the World Championships ©Getty ImagesChina's Qi Guangpu and Australia's Laura Peel took male and female aerials honours on the opening day of the International Ski Federation (FIS) Freestyle Ski and Snowboard World Championships in Kreischberg, Austria.

Qi, whose gold two years ago in Voss followed a silver medal two years before that in Deer Valley, showed admirable resilience after a disastrous preliminary round in which he only sneaked through to the final in the final qualifying slot.

But once there, his experience told, as the 24-year-old produced one outstanding jump after another before ending with a double-full, double-full to earn an outstanding score of 139.50.

"It was amazing," said the winner afterwards.

"In yesterday's qualification I almost didn't make it through, and today I'm world champion.

"My passion is to jump, and to jump like this makes me happy."

United States' 22-year-old prodigy Alex Bowen took the silver medal, showing experience beyond his years, landing a double-full, full, full jump in the super final to secure second spot. 

Maxim Gustik of Belarus took the bronze medal. 

In a similarly eventful women's competition, consistency was the aim of the game after skier after skier failed to produce their best form all the way through.

Laura Peel of Australia earned a first world title in the women's competition ©Getty ImagesLaura Peel of Australia earned a first world title in the women's competition ©Getty Images

And while not producing the most difficult jumps of the competition Peel was rewarded for her steadiness, managing only the second high profile victory of her career, with the first having also come at Kreischberg on the World Cup circuit.

Kiley McKinnon of the US finished second for a first senior World Championship medal, while defending champion and Sochi 2014 silver medal winner, Xu Mengtao finished third. 

"My only World Cup win was in Kreischberg, and now I win the World Champs here...yeah, I like this place," Peel said afterwards.

"I really wasn't expecting this at all.

"I was really just aiming to get into the top six and do what I could, hoping I could snag a podium, but taking the win is really unbelievable."

Action at the World Championships continues tomorrow with qualification in the snowboard halfpipe followed by the snowboard cross final. 

The next freestyle ski action will come on Sunday (January 18) with the male and female moguls competition.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

elated stories
January 2014: FIS President Kasper expecting "top-rate" Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding World Championships
October 2014: FIS Freestyle and Snowboard World Championships to be broadcast on YouTube