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Kauf, Soar Podium at Waterville Valley

By Courtney Harkins - Stifel U.S. Ski Team
January, 26 2024
Jaelin Kauf and Hannah Soar stand on the podium at the United Airlines Waterville Freestyle Cup presented by ID One USA. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard - Dustin Satloff)

In front of a cheering hometown crowd at New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley, Jaelin Kauf and Hannah Soar scored podium spots at the United Airlines Waterville Freestyle Cup presented by ID One USA, finishing second and third, respectively. 

While the weather didn’t cooperate, seeing everything from snow to freezing rain throughout the day-long competition, the competition was fierce for the individual moguls competition on Friday.

The Stifel U.S. Freestyle Ski Team women stacked seven into the 16-person finals, continuing their dominating season. Five athletes then qualified for the six-person super finals, guaranteeing at least two spots on the podium. Alli Macuga, Kasey Hogg and Olivia Giaccio all had trouble in the finals as course conditions worsened with the weather, but Kauf and Soar put down clean and fast runs to take second and third place, respectively. New Hampshire native Hogg finished just off the podium in fourth, a career best. Giaccio was fifth and Macuga sixth. Jakara Anthony won the event—her sixth World Cup in a row—and clinched the win of the overall single moguls Crystal Globe.

“The conditions were so tough, but the women’s success today shows how good of skiers we are and how much fight we have,” said Kauf. “No matter the conditions, no matter how tough and icy and challenging they were, the girls were able to put runs together and really showcase the strength of our skiing. Maybe Hannah is used to this east coast weather, but most of us are spoiled out west!”

Soar, a New England native from Connecticut who went to the Killington Mountain School, laughed about the conditions and was happy to land on the podium in front of family and friends. “Normally when I ski in the rain on the east coast—which is all the time—I’m wearing a rubber suit, I have my dish gloves on and I am prepared for it,” she laughed. “I’m a New Englander and I know how to prepare for it! But this is one of my first time competing in this kind of weather. In the super final when everyone was crashing in front of me, I just knew that there was one thing I know how to do and it’s skiing a top-to-bottom run in the rain.”

Behind the super finals, Tess Johnson was 11th and Park City Ski & Snowboard's Skylar Slettene was 14th. It was Slettene’s first World Cup and her first World Cup finals. Slettene also went to Vermont's Stratton Mountain School (SMS), just a few hours away from Waterville Valley.   

On the men’s side, five men sent it into the finals. Cole McDonald was the top American man, finishing fifth. Landon Wendler sent it to seventh place and Asher Michel was 11th, a career best. Nick Page and Dylan Marcellini had trouble putting down their runs in finals, finishing in 14th and 16th.

On the podium, Ikumu Horishima of Japan finished first, Cooper Woods of Australia was second and Mikael Kingsbury third.

The United Airlines Waterville Freestyle Cup presented by ID One USA was the first freestyle World Cup at Waterville Valley, which is known throughout the world as the birthplace of freestyle skiing. “Waterville has so much freestyle history,” said Kauf. “Wayne Wong is here. Donna Weinbrecht is commentating (on Outside). Hannah Kearney and Trace (Worthington) are commentating on NBC. It’s really cool to be a part of history and having the old freestyle community coming together for it. It’s really special. It really shows the family community that freestyle is.”

The weather looks to dry out at Waterville with dual moguls closing out the event on Saturday in front of a rowdy New England crowd.


HOW TO WATCH (times in ET)
Jan. 27

2:00 p.m. - men's and women's dual moguls, Waterville Valley, NH - Outside Watch

Jan. 28
2:00 p.m. - men's and women's dual moguls, Waterville Valley, NH - CNBC (next day delay)