After two momentous days in China, moguls skier Jaelin Kauf is well on her way to qualifying for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Kauf followed up her big win on Thursday with a second-place finish on Friday in the moguls world cup in Thaiwoo, giving her the two podium finishes she needed to be eligible for an automatic qualifying spot on the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team. So long as three teammates don’t surpass her in the final four qualifying events, the 21-year-old from Alta, Wyoming, will be making her Olympic debut in PyeongChang.
Kauf finished fifth to lead the American women in the world cup opener earlier this month in Finland, then notched her first podium finish in a world cup moguls event on Thursday to surge to the top of the world cup points leaderboard. The 2015-16 FIS moguls rookie of the year needed just one more finish in the top three to meet the automatic selection criteria, and with five more qualifying events remaining she had plenty of time.
She needed just 24 hours.
Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan got the win with 80.88 points followed by Kauf with 80.08. Right behind her was Canada’s Andi Naude with 80.03 points.
Americans Olivia Giaccio (sixth) and Tess Johnson (eight) also finished in the top 10.
Kauf also had a fifth-place finish at a world cup in February in PyeongChang on the Olympic course.
U.S. moguls skiers will continue to go for the automatic selection criteria at January events in Calgary, Alberta; two at Deer Valley in Utah; and in Tremblant, Quebec.
Kauf has been skiing her whole life, thanks in large part to parents who competed on the pro moguls tour. Her brother also competed in moguls. Her breakthrough came at the 2016 Visa Freestyle International, she said, when she qualified in 14th for the final then qualified first for the super final and knew then she had the ability to compete with the sport’s top athletes.