Kauf Third in Calgary; Growth From Entire U.S. Team
It was a successful return to competition for the U.S. Moguls Team in Calgary “Cow Town,” Canada, at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park. The U.S. had four men and four women qualify for finals: Jaelin Kauf (Alta, Wyo.), Tess Johnson (Vail, Colo.), Olivia Giaccio (Redding, Conn.) and Nessa Dziemian (East Hampstead, N.H.) on the women’s side and Brad Wilson (Butte, Mont.), Casey Andringa (Boulder, Colo.), Hunter Bailey (Vail, Colo.) and Jesse Andringa (Boulder, Colo.) on the men’s.
Jaelin Kauf leads the Americans, skiing into a third place, just behind Perrine Laffont (France) in first and Yulia Galysheva (Kazakhstan) in second. “I had a lot of fun out here; the course was really nice, and we had great conditions. It was fun to put down three solid runs today. I made some mistakes, specifically top air, but I’m happy with how I’m skiing and competing, so stoked to end up on podium again,” Kauf commented on today’s competition.
Kauf sits behind Laffont in the FIS rankings at second by a mere three points. “Expect her back in yellow when we head back to Canada after this coming World Cup in Lake Placid,” says Head Moguls Coach Matt Gnoza. “The fight for yellow bib will be down to wire this season between Jaelin and Perrine. Jaelin is hungry for it, she maintains being seconds faster than rest of the field so she’s in contention for every event.”
Overall the women skied strong, “I’m really happy with how women skied in qualifications,” says Gnoza. “Olivia qualified in third and Jaelin in second. They’re getting their job done. Tess didn’t have the finals run she wanted but she made some corrections in her skiing to make it to the super finals, to finish sixth, which was impressive. Nessa has been skiing consistent top to bottom runs, skiing very scorable stuff.”
Olivia Giaccio continues to push the boundaries of moguls with her run, which has the highest degree of difficulty for the women of the World Cup circuit. It will pay off, in a big way, down the road. Hannah Soar (Killington, Vt.) came back from significant ankle injury, putting down some good runs and earning World Cup points. Regional skier Alex Jenson (Park City Ski & Snowboard Club) continues to ski strong and is on the brink of top breaking into the top-16 more consistently.
On the men’s side, Mikael Kingsbury (Canada) topped the podium, followed by Walter Wallberg (Sweden) in second and Daichi Hara (Japan) in third. Hunter Bailey achieved a career best with a fifth-place finish, skiing in his career-second World Cup finals. “Hunter was phenomenal and consistent in finals. I can’t be prouder for him and how he’s grown and trusted the process,” says Gnoza.
Jesse Andringa had a career-defining moment, skiing in his first World Cup finals, finishing 13th. “It was pretty crazy making the final and skiing against the top dogs - such a fun and exciting experience,” said Andringa. “I had a small mistake and didn’t end up as well as I’d hoped but it’s exciting to see that I’m capable of skiing with all of these hot shots.”
Bailey and Andringa both made big statements today. “Those guys are going home with significantly lower bib numbers and significantly higher confidence,”Gnoza comments. Bailey cut his bib number from 35 down to 16 and Andrindga went from 40 to 22.
Casey Andringa continues to ski well. "He is developing into one of the top World Cup athletes for sure," said Gnoza.
The growth in performance from the national team goes deeper. Kalman Heims (Killington Mountain School), earned his first World Cup points with a 29th place. George McQuinn (Winter Park Competition Center Team), although didn’t have the run he hoped for, learned a lot about World Cup level skiing, which will pay off in the long run.
The first World Cup event of the New Year was a proving ground for the U.S. Team. “Having eight in finals is something I’m pretty proud of. We want to see more podiums, but part of the process is to get there first. We had a big step accomplishing that here in Calgary.”