Kuhn Leads Americans, Vinecki Tries New Trick
Kaila Kuhn led the U.S. Ski Team with a career-best fourth place at the Aerials FIS World Cup Opener in Ruka, Finland, Friday. Missing the podium by just 0.03 points, Kaila was knocked off when the night’s final female jumper, Australia’s Laura Peel, earned the top spot. Germany’s Emma Weiss came in second and Russia’s Anastasiia Prytkova was third.
“I had a little bit of a struggle at this training camp,” said Kaila of the team’s almost-month long sojourn in Ruka. “I’m really excited to have gotten out here and landed the jumps that I needed to land, so I feel really good about today. I think it was really beneficial for our team to come out and get this extra month on snow because we don't often get to do that.”
Winter Vinecki had a stand-out first night of competition, laying down a beautiful full full in the final round to qualify second for the super finals. She sent a brand-new trick to super finals, a double full full, which she had just brought to snow the same day. Head Coach Vladimir (Vlad) Lebedev reported Winter landed the trick twice in training but unfortunately did not quite stick the landing in competition, and ended the night in sixth.
“I’m excited to have started out the season with making it to super finals!” Winter reflected. “Obviously I would have loved to land that last jump and get on the podium. I had never done a double full full on snow before today, though, and decided to send it in finals. With my super finals comp jump being one of my first couple double full fulls ever, I am happy to have at least performed this high DD trick safely today for the first time. I had a ton of fun doing it and can’t wait to get some more training in with this trick to gain more confidence for the rest of the season!”
On the men’s side, Justin Schoenefeld was the only American to qualify for finals and finished fifth. The competition was swept by Russia with Maxim Burov earning first, Pavel Krotov in second and Ilia Burov in third.
Having hurt his back in training a few days before the event, Justin was struggling through some pain the whole night. “He had a hard time with his back,” Vlad said. “He wasn’t able to train a lot and jumped minimally this week. His back is still sore. For him to come in fifth despite his struggles was a real accomplishment.”
“Regardless of how I’m feeling I’m happy with the way I jumped,” Justin said. “I went up against the best in the world and I put my jumps down that I needed to.” When asked if he was looking forward to having some R&R at home, he smiled and said, “Yes, going to start in an hour, or actually now,” as he headed up the tow rope to debrief with Vlad before packing it in for the night.
The Aerials Team breaks until Dec. 15, when domestic training is set to begin at Official Training Site Utah Olympic Park.