Moguls Competes at U.S. Selections in Steamboat
The U.S. Moguls Freestyle Ski Team competed in U.S. Selections at Steamboat Resort, Colo. Jan 9-12, which provided an opportunity for up-and-coming moguls athletes to earn domestic World Cup starts.
With a long gap in the moguls World Cup schedule, the Team took advantage to train and compete on home snow to refine their skiing and work in some new tricks. U.S. Selections are usually held in December, so the national moguls community was eager to get in those start gates. Steamboat provided an outstanding, World Cup-caliber course. Fresh snow throughout the competition meant soft moguls and soft landings, which really let the athletes push their limits.
Thursday was the first of two moguls competitions, and from the skiing laid down, there is promising depth in the national moguls field. Fourteen-year-old new Team member Kai Owens skied an amazing run, according to Head Coach Matt Gnoza. Landing jumps right from the get go, she really let it fly through the middle, hitting a bottom cork 7 and stomping the landing to earn the top spot. Jaelin Kauf finished in second and Tess Johnson was third. It was a win for Colorado women, as Kai and Tess both skied for Ski & Snowboard Club Vail (SSCV), and Jaelin was back on familiar terrain having skied for Steamboat Winter Sports Club.
“It was an incredible feeling getting down to the bottom of the course and hearing the announcer say that I had won,” said Kai. “I have been watching Tess and Jaelin ski World Cup for a long time and it felt unreal to share the podium with such great skiers.”
Team member Jesse Andringa took the top spot for the men, while Landon Wendler (Steamboat Winter Sports Club) and Wyatt Antkiewicz (Steamboat Winter Sports Club) were second and third. An exciting group of young men are coming up through the ranks that will hopefully develop into some world-class skiers and Matt can see the next generation starting to show itself.
Saturday Hannah Soar claimed the top spot for the women. She had been having amazing runs all week and after Matt suggested she go find a natural mogul line to train on and find herself, which she did. Jaelin skied to second again, with Japan’s Satsuki Ito rounding out the podium in third. Tess worked in a new trick to finish fifth, and although she did not podium, she showed that putting in the work to progress will bode well in the next part of the World Cup schedule.
On the men’s side, Bruce Perry (Squaw Valley Ski Team) topped the podium with Team member Nick Page in second and Landon in third. Nick skied a bit tight on Thursday, but he executed at a high level on Saturday putting down a true World Cup run.
Sabrina Cass was the only Team member to compete in Sunday’s Duals competition, and after a rocky start to Selections with a DNF on Thursday, put herself together to finish second.
Four domestic World Cup starts were awarded from the combined results of Thursday and Saturday’s competitions. Kasey Hogg (Wasatch Freestyle) clinched her spot with a pair of fourth places. She is putting the U.S. on notice with her top air cork 7, fast middle section and a big grab on the bottom. Maggie Ryan (Steamboat Winter Sports Club) earned a start as well. As an athlete on the U.S. Team’s radar for some time, seeing her grind it out and get it done was exciting for all. Team member Nick sealed his fate and earned his Deer Valley World Cup start. Deer Valley will be a true homecoming for Nick, who has grown up skiing in Park City for Wasatch Freestyle. Bruce will also be starting at Deer Valley, who is on the comeback from being a previous U.S. Ski Team member.
The Team trains one more block in Steamboat before continuing on their World Cup tour, which has them in Tremblant on Jan. 25.