Double the Fun: Two Moguls World Cup Events in Thaiwoo, China
The second World Cup stop for the U.S. Moguls Team in Thaiwoo, China, is double the fun, with two days of events: moguls and dual moguls Dec. 15-16.
There is no better place for what will be the only opportunity for these athletes to compete back to back events before World Championships in Utah in February 2019. Thaiwoo built a venue just for moguls: it has its own lift, lodge, and snowmaking system. Each night the resort turns on the snow guns to give the course a fresh covering of snow, making landings ideal for moguls competition.
Coming off of a successful first World Cup event in Ruka, Finland, the team is ready to get back in the start gates. “I’m really pumped about this weekend’s competition in China. After finishing third in Ruka I’m going in with a lot of confidence while making sure to stay present and focused on the task at hand. I’ve always loved skiing this course so it should be a fun time!” said Tess Johnson (Vail, Colo.). “This course has a reputation of having a really tight rhythm of moguls which definitely suits my style of skiing.”
The strategy going into a two-event competition weekend is different than your average World Cup event. The team has focused on quality over quantity during their training days. “It will be important to conserve energy going into a two-day competition. In order to reach the podium, athletes will need to perform in three mogul runs on Day One and four to six dual mogul runs on Day Two. It will be important to still have fuel in the tank towards the end of the dual mogul competition so they can push the limits with their speed. The competition will be a great warm-up for the World Championships at Deer Valley in February,” explains Head Moguls Coach Matt Gnoza.
When asked about strategy for two days of competition, Casey Andringa (Boulder, Colo.), explains, “Two days of competing isn’t much different than one honestly. You’re still going out there and giving it every single thing you can each of those days. The tricky part is just recovering mentally and physically the night before and keeping that hype up for the next day no matter what went on during Day One.”
A clean exit from the top air will be a key to success for the Thaiwoo course as it will set the tone for the rest of the run. The Thaiwoo course is built uniform and each of the four lines are very consistent. Athletes will have to choose a line that best suits their exit turn to maximize scores. The long middle section will allow skiers to stand tall and show off their carving, absorption and quiet upper body position.
Competing in China presents its own unique cultural challenges. “We have a few athletes that have been here multiple times so they have been showing some of the rookies the ropes. As a team, we get more familiar with Chinese culture each year. This will be our third trip to Thaiwoo, so by the time 2022 comes around we will have everything figured out,” explains Gnoza.
The moguls team has historically had success in China. Last season five U.S. athletes finished in the top 10, Jaelin Kauf (Alta, Wyo.) took first and second over two days of competitions. Bradley Wilson (Park City, Utah) finished third in 2016. Kauf and Wilson both excel in Dual Moguls, anticipate a strong showing from them on Dec. 16. Johnson will look to build on her success from Ruka last week. “Tess won a dual event at the end of last season so she seems to be getting on a roll as she climbs the ranks of the World Cup Tour,” said Gnoza. Other athletes to watch will be Olivia Giaccio (Redding, Conn.), who has made the necessary adjustment in her run during training to put her in a good position for a podium, and Andringa, who will look to qualify in a higher position in the early rounds to set him up for success during super finals.
“I’m fired up to be in China right now. Ruka was a good start to the season, did my stock tricks and had some mistakes but still got in that top 10,” says Andringa. “I can’t wait to start putting some grabs in my run and to keep cutting my bib number down each event!”
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST.
Preliminary schedule, subject to change