U.S. Freestyle Team Wraps 2018-19 Season
The U.S. Freestyle Ski Team had a successful and progressive 2018-19 season, earning 13 elite-level medals edit two disciplines. The athletes of both the aerials and moguls team once again faced strong international competition, yet they were able to stay at the top of their game and consistently improved upon their personal bests.
The U.S. Ski Team moguls team had seven FIS Freestyle World Cup podiums over this past season, including two wins from 22-year-old Jaelin Kauf (Alta, Wyo.). Kauf’s impressive season landed her in second in the women’s overall World Cup moguls standings, for the second consecutive year.
“I’m really happy with this season. It’s my best season up to date and the most consistent I’ve ever been. It’s been a competitive winter and there’s been a lot of really impressive skiing, so I am truly honored to finish second in the world among such a strong field of women.” - Jaelin Kauf
Kauf isn’t the only woman that pushed her limits this season. Eighteen-year-old Olivia Giaccio (Redding, Conn.) made moguls history when she became the first woman to throw a cork 1080 in moguls competition during the last World Cup event in Kazakhstan. “It was one of my goals this season to be the first woman to complete the trick, so going for that was pretty fun,” says Giaccio. “It’s definitely in my plan to make it a part of my run in future, for sure.”
With Tess Johnson (Vail, Colo.) finished the season with two World Cup podiums and World Championships hardware in her first World Championships appearance. Throughout the season, the U.S. women consistently finished in the top 10 and the U.S. can claim to have the top women’s moguls team in the world.
On the men’s side, U.S. Freestyle veteran and sport legend Brad Wilson (Butte, Mont.) claimed his second-consecutive World Championships silver medal in the dual event at the resort he now calls home, Deer Valley Resort in Utah, after a nail-biting final run against Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury. Wilson also landed on the podium in third at one of his other favorite World Cup events in Tazawako, Japan. Teammate Casey Andringa (Boulder, Colo.) finished in the top 10 in three World Cup events, and fifth in the World Championships dual event, and both Hunter Bailey (Vail, Colo.) and Jesse Andringa (Boulder, Colo.) had impressive first full seasons on the full World Cup tour, boding well for future competitions.
Overall, two American men and two American women finished in the top 10 in the overall World Cup standings for moguls this season: Jaelin Kauf in second, Tess Johnson in fifth, Brad Wilson in seventh, and Casey Andringa in ninth. The rest of the team improved their positions as well: Olivia Giaccio finished in 11th, Nessa Dziemian (East Hampstead, N.H.) was 12th, Hannah Soar (Somers, Conn.) 18th, Dylan Walczyk (Rochester, N.Y.) 15th, Hunter Bailey 20th, and Jesse Andringa 27th. These results have provided the moguls team with a solid platform to build from for the 2019-20 season and beyond.
Despite growing international competition in the sport, the U.S. aerials team had an impressive season as well. Aerials superstar Ashley Caldwell (Ashburn, Va.) finished second and third, respectively, in World Cup events in Shimao Lotus Mountain, China, and her teammate, Eric Loughran (Pelham, N.H.), joined Ashley on the podium, finishing third in China for his first-ever career podium. “It feels so good right now to be on the podium, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Loughran. With three aerials podiums for the season, the future is looking bright for the U.S. Aerials Team.
Aerialists who were coming back from injury also progressed significantly this season. Winter Vinecki (Gaylord, Mich.), who injured her ACL last season, finished seventh in the overall World Cup standings. Similarly, Chris Lillis (PIttsford, N.Y.), had a great season coming back from injury, finishing ninth overall. Together, Vinecki and Lillis were crowned National Champions at the U.S. National Championships in Lake Placid, N.Y. Chris’ brother, Jon (Pittsford, N.Y.), finished 11th, and Justin Schoenfeld (Lawrenceburg, Ind.) finished 10th after his first full season on the World Cup tour. The most impressive standing was from Madison Varmette (Stafford, Va.), who finished sixth overall, after finishing 28th last season. “The overall standings are amazing,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard World Cup Coach, Eric Bergoust, “We didn’t hit our podiums target, but we got a lot of consistent results.”
Overall, the U.S. Freestyle Team accomplished a number of goals this season, including consistent results that help the ongoing goal of building a strong foundation for forthcoming seasons. The U.S. finished second in the overall Nation’s Cup standings for the second-straight year.
“Overall, I am very pleased with how the team performed this winter,” reflects U.S. Ski & Snowboard Head Moguls Coach Matt Gnoza. “I am extremely proud of all the athletes. Now they can catch their breath a little, and then the work will start all over again!”