Kauf is Queen of Thaiwoo
It was a picture-perfect day for the FIS Freestyle World Cup moguls in Thaiwoo, China, and Jaelin Kauf (Alta, Wyo.) took full advantage, claiming victory with a 360 on the top air and a backflip and cross on the bottom. She shared the podium with Australia’s Jakara Anthony, who finished second, and France’s Perrine Laffont in third.
“I love this course. I love competing here. The moguls don’t get too beat up, they’re more ‘overlappy’ which I like and I’m able to just push my speed through and go big on the airs,” said Kauf, who has a history of success in Thaiwoo. Last season she finished first and second over two days of competitions.
“Jaelin is the queen of Thaiwoo," said Head Moguls Coach Matt Gnoza. "She had a smoke-show of a run in the first final but left a little on the landing. When she skied out of the gate for her second run she shut all the doors and had quite the outstanding performance. Jaelin put pressure on the woman in first and Jakara just couldn’t catch her.”
It’s hard to catch Kauf when she’s the fastest skier on the course, especially when the course is Thaiwoo and is known for being challenging. “Jaelin has the strength of being a skilled skier on top of her speed. She has the ability to charge through and some of the stuff that catches other skiers here in Thaiwoo but doesn’t catch her,” Gnoza added.
Three American women qualified for finals and Nessa Dziemian (East Hampstead, N.H.) created some momentum for herself with a seventh-place finish. This is her first top-10 finish since coming back from an ACL injury.
On the men’s side, Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury won his 51st career World Cup, Japan’s Ikuma Horishima finished second and Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Reikherd finished third. Bradley Wilson (Butte, Mont.) returned to form in great fashion with a seventh place while not feeling one hundred percent. “Brad came out and competed to seventh place on one day of training and no inspections from being sick in bed. He just saddled up and went, it was a gutsy performance. He’s a warrior to not let that sickness get him,” said Gnoza.
Another notable finish for the men was Hunter Bailey (Vail, Colo.) who finished 14th. “Hunter did his job today cutting his bib number in half by making finals. This positive momentum will carry over throughout the season,” noted Gnoza.
The World Cup moguls fun continues in Thaiwoo, China, on Sunday with dual moguls. “It’s going to be a fun day tomorrow. Jaelin just unhooked the dog from the chain, giving her serious momentum going into duals. Brad is a duals animal and will be healthier tomorrow. Those two are going to be tough to beat!” said Gnoza.
“I’m really excited for duals," said Kauf, who now has five World Cup victories. "I love duals and seems like forever since I’ve skied them. Finishing today with a win feels amazing and I’m super stoked going into tomorrow."
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