Steamboat Springs sends top contenders to this year's World Championships | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs sends top contenders to this year’s World Championships

Jaelin Kauf flips off the bottom air on Champion run at Deer Valley Resort during the women’s finals of the Visa FIS Freestyle World Cup moguls event  in 2018. (Tanzi Propst/The Park Record)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club has a strong presence at the 2019 FIS World Championships in snowboard and freestyle freeski in Park City, Utah.

Steamboat Springs has already named one world champion, Mick Dierdorff, in snowboard cross, but could name several more as the event continues.

On Monday and Tuesday, Cody Winters, Robby Burns and AJ Muss will compete in the Alpine snowboarding parallel giant slalom and parallel slalom events.

World Championships schedule

The full T.V. schedule of events for Steamboat Springs athletes can be found here.

Winters will make his first World Championship appearance. Winters has found much success this season, including two first-place NorAm finishes in the parallel slalom at Buck Hill, Minnesota. In the annual Race to the Cup event at Howelsen Hill this year, Winters took home second and third placings in the parallel giant and parallel slalom respectively. In his seven NorAm cup appearances this season, Winters has placed within the top four six times. Winters has also had several top junior placings.

Burns, who was one spot away from an Olympic appearance last year, is making the most of his rigorous training schedule, placing first in three of his five NorAm appearances, including two at Howelsen Hill.

“I’m six years into my career, riding my board really well, and my training days have gotten better and better,” Burns said. “I’ve broken in a few boards that are really fast, and I’m in the best position possible to perform and get some good results. I want to make finals and go deep as I can.”

This is Burns’ second appearance in the World Championships, but this one is special given the path he has taken to get here, working as a nighttime security guard at the Sheraton in Steamboat Springs. As an athlete who hasn’t been able to make World Cup appearances this season, making the team was an uphill battle.

“More than anything, it’s gratitude for Steamboat,” Burns said. “Gratitude comes up because there aren’t many other places in the U.S. that offers what Steamboat does for the training we need to progress in this sport.

“Just as a town, over time, people genuinely ask when you’re at the restaurant or walking down the street how you are doing and how they can help. That’s a characteristic of Steamboat just like Champagne Powder.”

Aaron “AJ” Muss, a 2018 Olympian and New Jersey-native who has trained in Steamboat since 2008, caps off the list of Alpine snowboarders from Steamboat. But he will do so while injured. On Thursday, Jan. 31, Muss reported an injury from training, but he’s determined to keep competing.

Steamboat Olympic bronze medalist Arielle Gold will kick off Friday’s competition in the snowboard halfpipe. The current full-time student at the University of Colorado Boulder hopes to contend after a disappointing finish in the 2019 Winter X Games.

On Friday and Saturday, Steamboat will have 2018 Olympian Jaelin Kauf and Olivia Giaccio competing in the freestyle moguls and dual moguls events.

Giaccio’s most recent top finish was a ninth-placing at the World Cup at Mount Tremblant in Canada on Jan. 26. She currently trains in Park City but trained with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club for a year before making the U.S. Ski team in 2017.

Kauf is currently ranked No. 3 on the World Cup circuit and recently, placed first in both freestyle and dual moguls in China on Dec. 15 and 16. Kauf comes off a seventh-place appearance in Pyeongchang, where she missed the third round of finals.

But Kauf hasn’t rested, making nine World Cup appearances since the Olympics. And she’s no stranger to the World Championship stage: she placed third in Spain in 2017.

“The biggest thing I’ve improved is my consistency,” Kauf said. “Last year, I was going from winning to not even making finals, and this year, I’ve got a lot more confidence in my skiing and, I guess, trust myself coming down. I think my airs have improved, and I’m more comfortable landing them.”

Kauf has been working on landing her backflips on the bottom air, something she’s worked tirelessly on mastering since before her Olympic appearance but said her confidence has increased with experience.

For Kauf, this World Championship appearance is another step in the four-year journey back to the Olympics in 2022, a dream that she realized was possible last year.

“I love being able to represent Steamboat. For me, that’s where the dream came alive and became something I thought could be a reality,” Kauf said. “Being in the Winter Sports Club there and big Ski Town USA, you see the flags in Olympian hall or signs of Olympians all over. It’s just such a big deal and such an honor to be a part of that community and represent Steamboat when I ski.”

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email lvann@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.


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