Jaelin Kauf performs a trick during the woman's freestyle skiing moguls training session ahead of Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 2, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
There’s one thing the U.S. moguls skiers can agree on: the Genting Snow Park course northwest of Beijing could not be better.
It’s dry, consistent, firm — overall, not too different from conditions at the world cup and final Olympic qualifier held last month in Deer Valley, Utah.
“It’s a challenging course that’s actually easy in certain ways, because there’s not a lot of odd things happening with changes in pitch throughout the course, or weird jumps,” assessed Hannah Soar, who is making her Olympic debut. “It’s very well put together, the way Deer Valley is.”
“It’s not easy to make it down,” Jaelin Kauf, a 2018 Olympian, said. “It’s a very tough course but similar to Deer Valley in that brings out the best skiing. As our coaches say, it’s a skier’s course. The best skiing is going to shine on this course, just like it does in Deer Valley.”
There’s just one thing: it’s cold and windy, with temperatures ranging around 15 degrees Fahrenheit.
“We’re wearing every layer we have,” Olympics rookie Nick Page said.
“I personally have heated socks and heated boots, so I’m pretty prepared,” Soar added.
She’ll have a chance to use them right away. The men’s and women’s moguls’ qualification rounds are on Thursday — one day prior to the Opening Ceremony — with the men’s finals on Saturday and the women going on Sunday.
The three women and four men on the U.S. squad represent an intriguing mix of youth and experience.
At 25, Kauf is the veteran of the women’s group. The Alta, Wyoming, native has competed on the world cup since 2016 and has 18 podium finishes to her credit. She finished seventh in the moguls event at her Olympic debut four years ago.
“I felt a lot of pressure from myself (in PyeongChang) that I had to have this amazing performance, or I would disappoint so many people,” Kauf said. “But what I learned was everyone was so excited watching me compete at this level, the result didn’t really matter to them. So, don’t let that pressure affect your performance, and add on to the pressure you put on yourself.”