Fast and first, Jaelin Kauf dominates Park City World Cup
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Jaelin Kauf just keeps outdoing herself, which doesn’t seem overly possible considering just how well she’s been doing.
Kauf, a freestyle moguls skier who trained in Steamboat Springs and graduated from Steamboat Springs High School, dashed down the field of bumps Thursday at a World Cup event at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah and she walked away with her third career victory on the circuit and her second of the season.
Kauf was already in first place in the World Cup standings, taking that title back after finishing second in a World Cup on Wednesday at the same venue, but she furthered her lead Thursday with a dominating performance.
She was first after the initial qualification round on Thursday then second after next round of 16 skiers, moving her into the superfinal of six. She was at her best with her last run, recording the fastest women’s time of the night and strong scores in turns and jumping to claim the top of the podium.
She finished with a score of 81.37, ahead of Perrine Laffont of France, second at 80.38 and fellow United States skier Morgan Schild, third at 78.76.
The difference was almost entirely in the speed. Kauf was more than a second faster than anyone else on the podium, a considerable amount on a course that all six finalists finished in less than 30 seconds.
Kauf also won a single moguls event while competing on the World Cup in China last month, then won a dual moguls event last year.
Schild’s result was also a big plus for the United States and with it, her second third-place finish in as many nights, she locked up a spot on the Olympic team.
Three other U.S. skiers made the round of 16. Keaton McCargo just missed advancing with the top six and finished seventh. Tess Johnson was 11th and Avital Shimko, a Steamboat Springs athlete, made the final for the first time in her career, placing 15th.
Shimko only earned the starts at the Park City World Cups late last month. Wednesday’s event was her first at that level. She skied better Thursday, recording one of the nights fastest runs on her final attempt.
Only one event remains on the World Cup moguls calendar before the Olympics, a Jan. 20 trip to Tremblant, Quebec. That event will serve as the final Olympic qualifier for the U.S. team. At least one spot on the squad is still up for grabs, and perhaps two, if U.S. team officials elect to send four athletes instead of three.
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