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Countdown to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

Fagan Golden At Youth Olympic Games

By Jenn Sheridan
January, 21 2020
Freeski slope
Melvin Moran (left), Kiernan Fagan (center), and Hunter Henderson (right) on the freeski slopestyle podium at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020. (Christopher Levy)

It was a successful few days for the freeskiers of Team USA at Leysin Park & Pipe during the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020 with U.S. Freeski Pro Team member Kiernan Fagan earning slopestyle gold and teammate Hunter Henderson snagging the bronze. Sweden’s Melvin Moren skied his way to the silver medal. Kiernan had a strong run right out of the gate earning first with a score of 87.33 in his first run of finals. That confidence carried over into his second run where he nailed a clean line and secured the top spot.

“To walk away with a gold medal at an event we won’t have another shot at was one of the greatest moments,” said Kiernan. “To have my mom out here and friends supporting me definitely played a part in me winning the gold. Having my teammate Hunter Henderson right behind me in third place was one of the coolest things.”

Sharing the podium was a special moment for both Kiernan and Hunter who have been skiing together and pushing each other since childhood. After a rough first run, Hunter was able to bounce back into third place with a score of 88.66 on his second run.

“Representing Team USA in an Olympic event has been a dream of mine ever since I was in grade school,” said Hunter. “Coming out to Youth Olympic Games and walking away with a medal is the best feeling in the world."

That winning momentum carried into the next day’s halfpipe competition for Team USA with U.S. Freeski Rookie Team member Hanna Faulhaber taking bronze behind China’s Fanghui Li earning silver and Eileen Gu Ailing taking the top spot with the gold.

“I tried to treat it like every other competition, but I definitely was a little nervous,” said Hanna. “I quickly realized the scope of the event and how big the Youth Olympics Games really is when I arrived. It’s a much different atmosphere than a World Cup and it’s really special to compete with athletes from all over the world who are representing their nation. I’m extremely happy with my results and hope to carry momentum into the Mammoth Grand Prix and the rest of my competition season.”

Meanwhile, on the men’s side, U.S. Freeski Rookie Team member Hunter Carey took the silver behind Canada’s Andrew Longino and ahead of New Zealand’s Luca Harrington in third.

"The last Youth Olympic Games was four years ago, and my friend from Winter Park, Birk Irving, was in it," said Hunter. "He got first place, which was insane. Everyone was hyped in Winter Park. To come back four years later and take a medal home to Winter Park is super cool. Going into finals, I was going to do a more mellow run [for the first run] just to get points on the board, but I figured points don't matter unless it's 'go big or go home'. I threw down one of my hardest runs first, landed really well, got a decent score so I was feeling confident. I went back up, did the same run - but did it better - so that went really well. I was going to try to step it up on the last run to hopefully take over the top, but it just didn't go to plan, but I'm still stoked. It honestly feels amazing. Since I was a little kid, I always wanted to be on the U.S. team. Coming here and getting second place for the U.S. is really nice."

Freeski competition will continue in Lausanne, Switzerland with men's and women's big air finals on Wednesday. 

RESULTS
Men's freeski slopestyle
Women's freeski slopestyle
Men's freeski halfpipe
Women's freeski halfpipe