Kauf rides bumps to World Cup starts | SteamboatToday.com

Kauf rides bumps to World Cup starts

— Jaelin Kauf, say hello to the big leagues.

The Steamboat Springs freestyle moguls skier announced with a pair of dominating races last weekend she’d ascended to a whole new level. Kauf posted top-two finishes in both moguls competitions last weekend at the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team Selections event at Winter Park. Those results earned the Steamboat Springs High School graduate the right to start at several World Cup events later this season.

“I’m ecstatic about it,” Kauf said. “It feels go great knowing I’m moving up to the next level. It’s a little surreal, like it won’t kick in until I’m competing at the World Cup, but yeah, it’s incredible.”

Kauf was second in Friday’s moguls event, then first in Sunday’s. She was steady and stellar the entire way. Of the six total runs she took on the two days of competition, Kauf posted the highest score in four of them. She did it against an elite field, too, one that included the country’s top aspiring skiers, plus half a dozen U.S. Ski Team skiers, all aiming for those World Cup starts.

She’ll get to start Jan. 14 in Lake Placid, New York, then twice more — Feb. 4 and Feb. 6. — in Deer Valley, Utah.

“She’s definitely on fire,” Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club freestyle director Bobby Aldighieri said. “We have a few adjustments to make before she skis at the World Cups in Deer Valley and Lake Placid, but she’s certainly going in the right direction.”

“Going in the right direction” is a fair assessment of more than just Kauf when it comes to the Winter Sports Club’s freestyle skiers.

A group of young women makes up the team’s elite, post-grad squad, and that group, as a whole, showed extremely well in Winter Park. Olivia Giaccio surprised even her coaches with her dynamite performances through the weekend.

She was third Friday, then fourth Sunday, good enough to earn a phone call from the U.S. Ski Team coaching staff after the event promising her a World Cup start, as well.

Giaccio wrapped up her weekend Monday with a fifth-place finish in a dual moguls event.

Anna Park had a great day Friday, finishing fourth, then followed up with a 12th-place finish Sunday. Avital Shinko was 11th Friday, ninth Sunday and seventh Monday. Maggie Ryan, meanwhile, was 27th, 14th and 22nd Friday, Sunday and Monday, respectively.

“Maggie, she qualified for finals on Sunday, and that was a huge step for her,” Aldighieri said. “Out of the whole group we’re coaching this year, she may have improved the most.”

The weekend wasn’t what Steamboat alumni and current U.S. Ski Team skiers had hoped for. U.S. C-teamers Lane Stoltzner and Sophia Schwartz made the finals both days, but couldn’t crack the six-skier super finals on either. Stoltzner went ninth and 11th, and Schwartz was 12th and 10th.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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