Jaelin Kauf Takes Off & And Wins Moguls Silver At 2022 Winter Olympics
by Justin Limoges
Jaelin Kauf reacts after winning the silver medal during the women's freestyle skiing moguls final at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 6, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
ZHANGJIAKOU, China – Another medal performance is in the bag for Team USA as Jaelin Kauf clinched silver in the moguls finals Sunday at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
Kauf, 25, cruised through her final run, earning an 80.28 in 26.49 alongside a backflip mute grab on the top aerial and a backflip iron cross on the bottom. She was leading until Australia’s Jakara Anthony closed out the super finals to take gold with 83.09.
“Like [my super-finals run] wasn’t a flawless run, and I just didn’t know what the judges were going to do with that,” the two-time Olympian said. “When it popped up with my score, I realized that I was getting an Olympic medal.”
Kauf’s silver medal followed U.S. snowboarder Julia Marino’s silver in the women’s snowboard slopestyle finals earlier on Sunday to take Team USA’s medal count to two.
The Alta, Wyoming, native admitted that her final run was arguably the worse out of all three, claiming that she was skiing too fast into the middle section of moguls.
“I definitely felt pretty in control for all my runs,” Kauf said. “Probably the least I controlled was the last one. I missed the first turn coming out of the top air, so I was skiing pretty fast out of there. For every run, I was just fighting every turn to just give it everything that I had.”
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) February 6, 2022
Kauf is the lone veteran on the U.S. women’s moguls team, having competed at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. There, she finished seventh in her Olympic debut.
While the 25-year-old struggled in 2018, she attributed her success at the 2022 Games to two things: She’s not being drawn to so much of the pressure that she dealt with going in as the world’s No. 1 ranked moguls skier in 2018, and she trusts her parents’ advice.
“And the biggest thing that I learned from my parents, and the biggest thing that I took into this Olympics, was just having fun – just doing my thing,” said the two-time Olympian. “That’s the thing they always really tried to instill in me is just do it for the love of it with passion.”
This time, Kauf started strong during her qualifying run and ignored all the distractions. It ended up paying off as she became the first U.S. medalist since three-time Olympian Hannah Kearny (2006, 2010, 2014), who last won bronze at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014.
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Beijing 2022? Visit TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Olympic-Games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.
Olivia Giaccio reacts after finishing her run during the women's freestyle skiing moguls final at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 6, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
A Team Endeavor
Kauf was joined by all three of her U.S. teammates – Olivia Giaccio, Hannah Soar and Kai Owens – in the finals, who were all making their Olympic debuts.
Giaccio, 21, competed in the super-final round alongside Kauf, scoring a 75.61 in 29.60 with a back full and cork 720 on the aerials. Giaccio was the first woman to land a cork 1080 in competition but opted out and “chose not to do it and that was the play.”
The Redding, Connecticut, native put down a run she was comfortable with and closed out of super finals in sixth place at the Winter Games.
“Definitely being in the medal round in general is something that I’ve always dreamed of ever since I began moguls skiing,” said Giaccio following her final run. “While it’s definitely a bit of a bummer not to be on the podium, I do believe I performed my best. So, I’m happy with today.”
Soar, 22, and Owens, 17, earned their way into the second round of finals. Soar narrowly missed out of super finals placing in seventh with a 75.16 in 28.95, while Owens claimed 10th with 65.49 in 28.54 after saving a rough landing during her run.
Owens had a serious eye injury from training prior to the first-round qualifiers and opted out to attend to the injury.
The Vail, Colorado, native crushed the second qualifiers with a 69.92 to make the finals when she noted she could barely see out of her left eye just days before.
“I owe a huge thanks to our Team USA and U.S. Ski & Snowboard staff just for helping me be out here,” Owens said. “After a big hit and injury, it was definitely tough mentally – and obviously – very tough physically to come back, but I love moguls skiing. I’m so grateful to be here and I’m so proud I was able to step up to the gate today.”
When asked about how her Olympic experience has treated her, Soar was nothing short of ecstatic for Kauf’s performance and supportive of Giaccio and Owens.
“I think the Olympics is a great place to really come together,” the Killington, Vermont, native said. “That’s honestly when medals really do feel like a team-supported endeavor, especially because it’s our team, it’s our U.S. Ski & Snowboard team and then it’s Team USA. And I think we’ve done a great job of just embodying the Olympic spirit here.”
Justin Limoges is a 2020 sports communication graduate from Bradley University, originating from Newport, Vermont. He is a digital media assistant for Team USA.