U.S. Wins Gold, Bronze at Freestyle Junior Worlds
The next generation of freestyle skiers wrapped their season at the FIS Junior World Freestyle Championships in Chiesa in Valmalenco, Italy, April 5-6 with three events: aerials, moguls and dual moguls. Sixteen athletes represented the United States and the team came home with two medals, a gold, and a bronze, and firmly moved the USA into the lead of the Marc Holder Award, which is presented to the top country from the combined freestyle and freeski Junior World Championships.
Originally scheduled to take place over three days, Mother Nature dumped more than 72 inches of snow, delaying aerials by a day. Kaila Kuhn (Boyne City, Mich.) was the top finisher of the U.S. aerials team, placing fourth. At just 15-years-old, Kuhn competed at the 2019 World Championship events held in Park City, Utah, and on the World Cup circuit this season. She is currently ranked 15th in the world for women’s aerials and will be a force to be reckoned with as she gains competition experience.
The U.S. came away with two medals on the moguls side: Sabrina Cass (Cheshire, Conn.) won gold at the singles event and Alex Lewis (Carlisle, Mass.) claimed bronze at duals.
The weather proved challenging new snow followed by warm temperatures for the April 5 moguls event. “After almost a meter of new, heavy snow overnight, the course was completely rebuilt the morning of the event - and then the temperatures rose into the ’50s,” explained U.S. Junior Worlds Moguls Coach Glenn Eddy. “The rapidly changing course conditions took a toll on the field with many DNFs. Sabrina really rose to the occasion and tackled the conditions, skiing a solid qualifying run followed by her outstanding finals performance.”
“It was an incredible feeling to win Junior Worlds,” said Cass. “The field of athletes was very competitive. My skiing definitely improved throughout the day and I’m really hyped with the way it turned out.”
In the dual event, two Americans went head-to-head in the small final, and Lewis beat out teammate Landon Wendler (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) to reach the podium in third place. “I am super happy to finish third in duals at Junior Worlds,” said Lewis. “I’ve been working hard all season and I’m glad it’s paid off with this podium.”
Following dual moguls, The United States leads the Marc Hodler Award standings with 85 points. Russia is second with 65 points, and Switzerland is third with 54 points. Two events remain, freeski slopestyle April 9, and big air April 13, in Klappen, Sweden.