PARK CITY, Utah - Despite the absence of recently retired Hannah Kearney, who is tied for the most career moguls victories, Team USA still made an appearance in the super final for women’s moguls during at Visa Freestyle International, a world cup, thanks to the impressive and somewhat unexpected performance from Jaelin Kauf.
Kauf, a native of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, said it was “very exciting” to reach the super final round. This was only Kauf’s third world cup start, and her first time ever appearing in a super final run, an impressive achievement.
But for the Kauf family, skiing success isn’t anything new. Kauf’s father Scott was a five-time World Pro Mogul Tour champion, and her mother Patty was a two-time World Pro Mogul Tour winner.
Kauf qualified for the super final as the top seed at Deer Valley, on the 250-meter long champion course (used for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games), with a score of 77.60, and was slated to run last during the super final. After a 77.80-scoring run from Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe, Kauf had to score at least a 77.12 to gain a spot on the podium.
Kauf said it was a little nerve-wracking to be the last runner in the super final, but she stayed positive by saying that she didn’t have anything to lose by running last.
Despite turning in the fastest run of the super final round at 28.31 seconds, and an overall solid performance, Kauf finished with a score of 69.84. That score landed her in sixth, while Dufour-Lapointe took the win.
Even after finishing last in the super final, Kauf was still very positive and upbeat after her final run.
“It’s definitely nice having family and friends here supporting,” Kauf said after her final run. “The atmosphere here is awesome.”
Kauf’s final run was a great performance, but on her final landing she fell too far back — not quite on the ground, but close enough that the judges heavily penalized her for it.
The champion course at Deer Valley is one of the hardest courses in the world cup, something all the athletes noted.
“It was really nice, but really soft right now,” Kauf said about the course.
Even with all the challenges, Kauf was surprisingly positive after her sixth-place finish. When asked how she was able to do the run so quickly, she just laughed and said she didn’t know.
Although she’s an accomplished skier, the sport isn’t Kauf’s only passion. She deferred a scholarship from the University of Montana School of Architecture to pursue her dreams of competing in the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.