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Canberra's Laura Peel wins aerial gold at skiing world championships

Laura Peel has become the first Australian to win a gold medal in the aerials at the freestyle skiing world championships since Alisa Camplin 12 years ago.

Canberra's Peel earned 88.47 points to edge Kiley Mckinnon of the United States by 0.35 with defending champion Xu Mengtao (86.84) of China winning bronze on the opening day of the tournament in Austria, early on Friday morning, Australian time.

Xu, the Olympic silver medallist, led the competition until landing on her back after the final jump.

"I just can't believe it," said the 25-year-old Peel, who earned her sole World Cup win at the same venue, Kreischberg, three years ago.

"Xu is an incredible jumper and her landing is usually bang on. I am just so happy to be on top of the podium."

Peel had qualified second for the world championship final of 12 athletes.

The former gymnast got her start in the sport after being hand-picked by five-time aerial world champion Jacqui Cooper in a talent identification program in 2007. 

She finished seventh in her debut Winter Olympics in Sochi last year.

With AAP