Kauf Earns First U.S. Moguls Medal Since 2014
Sunday night under the lights at the Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, China, Jaelin Kauf persevered through three final rounds to take home a silver medal for Team USA, the first mogul's medal for an American since 2014.
Kauf started as one of 20 athletes in the first final, alongside the rest of her teammates nominated to Team USA, Hannah Soar, Olivia Giaccio, and Kai Owens. From there, all four women finished in the top 12 athletes to advance to the second final. In the second final, Soar and Owens dropped off, while Kauf and Giaccio went on to compete in the super-final to fight with four other women for an Olympic medal.
"The medal round was something I got emotional about last Olympics, and I got emotional at the bottom [today] when I qualified for that final round," said Kauf. "I knew what was at stake. But as I was getting closer to being in the [start] gate, I just told myself what I've told myself every other run – 'This is your day, go out there, have fun, leave it all out there and attack,' and that's exactly what I did."
Kauf charged, pushing hard through the moguls after throwing a big backflip with a mute grab on the first air, accentuating the speed that she is known for on the World Cup Tour. Kauf finished her run in 26.37 seconds (the fastest time of the day) after going big on the second air, earning her a score of 80.28 and guaranteeing her the silver medal.
Kauf's road to the podium has been grueling. In the 2018 Games, Kauf had been favored for a medal as the World Cup leader but did not make the super final. Pushing through a difficult season to make the super final, put down a strong run, and grab a medal for her country was a moment of redemption.
"It's been a fight to get here," said Kauf. The past four years, this season, and all of those run out there today, and it just feels so good to just make it happen. Every run I was fighting every turn to give it everything that I had."
Overall, the American women had a fantastic showing at the Winter Olympic Games Beijing 2022. Team USA had the most representation in the top 10, with Giaccio finishing 6th, Soar finishing 7th, and Owens finishing 10th in each of their Olympic debuts.
Soar and Giaccio had qualified in the first round of qualifications, while Owens punched her ticket in the second qualification round. The 17-year-old had crashed in training earlier in the week and had been under medical evaluation until being cleared to compete in the second qualifier.
"The first day of recovery, I couldn't even move my arm," said Owens. "I was in a sling because of my rotator cuff. Then I couldn't see out of my eye. It was crazy. I had to pass some brain injury safeguards to make sure I was okay. I had no symptoms, so I was really lucky there. And Celeste, my PT, helped me drain some of the swelling out of my eye. [My recovery] was a big project, it was tough, but I made it. And I'm so proud and grateful. I'm so lucky I had recovery staff here to help me."
The women's mogul final Sunday marks the completion of competition for the U.S. Freestyle mogul athletes. On Thursday, Feb. 10, aerials kick off with the mixed team event.
Women's moguls final