Johnson Third in Alpe d’Huez
Tess Johnson led the Americans in Friday’s Moguls World Cup in Alpe d’Huez, France, claiming her career-fourth World Cup podium with a third place finish. Friday was a perfect bluebird day at the French ski resort and the Olympic-style course demanded aggressive skiing, which Johnson was happy to provide.
“I’m over the moon right now, it’s been three years since my last singles podium and it's just been a journey and a half to get back here,” said Johnson. “I was proud to throw cork on my top air and my signature venom on the bottom. To do that and land on the podium is a dream come true.
“This course has been pretty challenging all week. The top air and top air exit in particular have been a massive challenge. I just went out there and stuck with my cork through some tough training, focused on my cues all week long, and it really paid.”
Friday’s result is the culmination of years of hard work from Johnson. The 21-year-old has pushed hard to bring her degree of difficulty up over the past few seasons. “I’m just proud that I stuck with this sport in times of feeling like a failure, that I stuck with doing cork. Here I am having competed a cork 7 on top air, in one of the most challenging top airs. I’m proud of my coaches for believing in me.”
Johnson built her momentum through the day, scoring high in her airs and skiing a powerful middle section all competition-long. “Tess just got better every run,” said Head Mogul Coach Matt Gnoza. “You could see her build her confidence and determination each run, focusing on what she can control. Her finals run bottom venom grab was so dynamic. It had nice lift and peeled open. She really tweaks it, which the judges really respond to. The way Tess skied that middle section into the bottom air, she’s moving in a really great direction.”
Johnson shared the podium with Australia’s Jakara Anthony, in first, and Japan’s Anri Kawamura, in second.
Five women qualified for finals: Johnson, Hannah Soar, Kai Owens and Morgan Schild. Owens really pushed it in her finals run with one of the faster times of the field but landed just outside of qualifying to Super Finals and finished the day in seventh. Soar skied a strong run as well to finish the day in eighth. Giaccio finished 13th and Schild 16th.
Schild battled back-to-back injuries since her 2018 Olympic season to come back fighting for a shot at 2022. After laying it all out on the snow during qualifications, Schild pushed out of the World Cup start gate for the last time on Friday during Finals.
“It was a bittersweet ending,” Morgan reflected. “I think about that Dr. Seuss quote ‘don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.’ I have nothing but gratitude for the sport. Watching the women crush it week in and out, I’m grateful to have been around this new generation of competitors, it's an honor. It’s very inspiring to see the next generation step up to that challenge and take it in stride. I look forward to watching all of these gals crush it at the Olympics.”
“Today was emotional and when I think about my performance in Finals and Super Finals, I skied for Morgan today, and proud to say that I did,” said Johnson.
Madison Hogg finished 22nd, Jaelin Kauf finished 25th
Three men represented the U.S. in finals: Nick Page, Brad Wilson and Cole McDonald. Page skied an aggressive middle section and finished the day in ninth. Wilson dug himself out of an early start position after a bit of a struggle in qualifiers and finished in 13th. In only his fourth World Cup start McDonald made his second Finals appearance and finished in 16th. Dylan Walczyk finished 24th.
Japan went 1-2 with Ikuma Horishima winning the men’s event and teammate Daichi Hara claiming second. Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury rounded out the podium in third.
“This course is steep and the athletes really had to work hard the entire way down,” said Gnoza. “This is why we spend so much time in the gym at the USANA Center of Excellence, for when we get to a course like this. Kudos to our High Performance staff for making sure these guys were ready for it.”
Moguls competition continues Saturday with Duals. Five women qualified Thursday for Saturday’s Round of 16: Johnson, Owens, Giaccio, Soar and Kauf. “[This podium] definitely makes me motivated,” said Johnson on how she’s feeling heading into tomorrow’s competition. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn't pretty tired. But I’m psyched for tomorrow, I’ve already qualified and am excited to ski.”
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST
Broadcast and streaming are updated on the U.S. Ski & Snowboard website throughout the season.
FOLLOW THE U.S. FREESTYLE SKI TEAM