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FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships Preliminary Athlete Team Nomination

By Ryan Odeja - Stifel U.S. Ski Team
July, 2 2024
Jaelin Kauf on the podium
Jaelin Kauf celebrating on the podium at the 2023 Freestyle Ski World Championships in Bakuriani, Georgia. (Miha Matavz/FIS)

The best freestyle athletes from around the world will gather in Engadin, Switzerland, for the 2025 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships from Mar. 18-30. Each country will nominate four athletes per gender, per discipline. Complete nominations will be made later this season; however, this year, the U.S. athletes had the opportunity to prequalify based on their standings from the 2023-24 season. According to prewritten criteria, ‘U.S. Ski & Snowboard will nominate the top one (1) U.S. athlete, respective of gender, ranked in the top three (3) on the 2025 FIS Base List.’

The 2025 FIS Base List has been released, so let’s look at the first athletes nominated to the 2025 Stifel U.S. Freestyle Ski Team World Championships Team.


(Hometown; Club; College/University; Birthdate)

Jaelin Kauf

(Alta, WY; Grand Taghee Ski & Snowboard Foundation/Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club; University of Utah; 9/26/1996)
2022 Olympic silver medalist - moguls
2023-24 season standings: 2nd - moguls, dual moguls, overall

Olympic silver medalist Jaelin Kauf of Alta, Wyoming, is a force to be reckoned with on the moguls World Cup circuit. Her relentless pursuit of victory in every event she competes in is truly inspiring. Kauf’s track record is a testament to her skill and dedication, with eight World Cup victories, 36 World Cup podiums, four World Championship podiums, seven U.S. Championship titles, and an Olympic silver medal. 

Off the slopes, Kauf is a passionate advocate for women and girls in sports, actively supporting the Women’s Sports Foundation. In 2019, she achieved a personal milestone by being featured in a Warren Miller film, “Timeless’. Her motto, “Deliver The Love,” serves as a constant reminder to enjoy the sport and stay focused on her passion and love for skiing.

Kauf finished the 2023-24 season ranked second in the moguls, dual moguls, and overall standings, with a win and 10 additional podium finishes. 


(Hometown; Club; College/University; Birthdate)

Winter Vinecki

(Gaylord, MI; Park City Ski & Snowboard; St. Mary’s University School of Law; 12/18/1998)
2022 Olympian
2023-24 season standings: 2nd Overall

Winter Vinecki, from Gaylord, Michigan, is not just an aerials skier but an all-around athlete. Her achievements extend beyond the slopes, as she holds two World Records: the youngest person to run a marathon on seven continents and the first mother-daughter duo to do so. Her determination and versatility are truly admirable. She has earned multiple podiums, Olympic and World Championship starts, and more in aerial skiing. In 2021, she snagged her first World Cup podium in Moscow, Russia, and stood on the podium three more times that same season. 

Outside of skiing and running, Winter is the founder of Team Winter, a non-profit organization for prostate cancer research and awareness in honor of her late father, who passed away from an aggressive form of the disease. 

During the 2023-24 season, Vinecki made waves in aerials, becoming one of the only women to compete triples on the World Cup circuit. She finished the year ranked second overall, tying her career-best finish. 

Chris Lillis

(Rochester, NY; Bristol Mountain Freestyle Team; 10/4/1998)
2022 Olympic Champion - aerials team
2023-24 season standings: 3rd Overall

Stifel U.S. Freestyle Ski Team aerials athlete Chris Lillis made a significant mark on the world of aerial skiing when he won an Olympic gold medal in the aerials team event at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games. 

Not only was Chris the youngest man to win a FIS aerials World Cup, claiming the top spot as a 17-year-old in 2016, but he also earned 13 NorAm podium finishes, four of which he took first place. Chris has been on the podium eight times on the World Cup circuit, winning two. Lillis is also a three-time World Championship medalist, winning the gold in 2023 in the aerials team event and a silver and bronze in 2021. Fun fact: Chris is the first American since Jeret “Speedy” Peterson to complete a quintuple (five twists, three flips) in a competition.

This season was a roller coaster for many aerials athletes, but Lillis brought home two individual podiums and a team win to finish third overall. 

“The early qualification process is designed to allow top performing athletes to best prepare for peak performance at the event,” said Matt Gnoza, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Freestyle Sport Director. “Early nomination allows the athletes ample time to prepare mentally and physically for large stake events. The freestyle staff and I are excited to see how this procedure can enhance our World Championship outcomes.” 

This early qualification process will be implemented again in preparation for the 2025-26 season to secure spots for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Milan-Cortina, Italy. Four athletes (one per gender, per discipline) will have the chance to qualify for the 2026 Olympics based on their performance in the 2023-24 overall season standings. 

Tentative Freestyle World Championships Schedule

Moguls Qualification - Tuesday, March 18
Moguls Finals - Wednesday, March 19
Dual Moguls - Friday, March 21
Mixed Team Aerials - Thursday, March 27
Aerials Qualification - Saturday, March 29
Aerials - Sunday, March 30