U.S. Moguls Team Ready for World Cup Season
After a very productive pre-season prep period, the moguls skiers of the U.S. Freestyle Ski Team begin their FIS World Cup season in Ruka, Finland, with men and women’s qualifications and finals on Friday, Dec. 7.
“I am so excited to kick the season off and finally get back in the gate, feels like it’s been forever,” said Jaelin Kauf (Alta, Wyo.) after training on the opening World Cup course. “I love the big bottom air and the speed you can carry in this course!”
With an uncharacteristically slow start to the snow year in the Arctic Circle, Ruka has been making snow round-the-clock to produce a quality course. The U.S. Moguls Team has been on-site training since November 20, and after six days of flatwork was “chomping at the bit to get on the full-length course,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard Head Moguls Coach Matt Gnoza. “Once on the course the team quickly got up to speed skiing top to bottom runs. The staff felt good about how the team looked on the full course and everyone was skiing at a high-intensity level as they prepared for this week’s first World Cup event.”
The course at Ruka, with a fast mid-section and huge bottom air (the second of two jumps in the course where athletes perform aerial maneuvers), is sure to keep athletes on their toes and provide for an exhilarating competition.
“Athletes need to push their speed but also maintain position and control so they can hit a quality bottom air,” explains Gnoza. “The Ruka bottom air is a showtime jump. Athletes can take the jump as big as they want, it gives them plenty of air to perform even the most difficult tricks. With the location of the judges stand here in Ruka being equal eye level to the bottom air, an athlete that goes big really makes an impression on the judges.”
The U.S. has 13 athletes competing for the first podiums of the 2018-19 season and the team is looking strong. Kauf leads the charge for the women as the current fastest female moguls skier in the world. Tess Johnson (Vail, Colo.) is skiing strong technical runs that are sure to impress the judges, and Olivia Giaccio (Redding, Conn.) is taking huge jumps. On the men’s side, Bradley Wilson (Butte, Mont.) has been fast and aggressive in training and Casey Andringa (Boulder, Colo.) has been dominating the middle section of the course and stomping out the landing on both of his jumps. Rookies Hunter Bailey (Vail, Colo.) and Jesse Andringa (Boulder, Colo.) are both skiing confidently and will be looking to make a statement in their first international World Cup starts.
HOW TO WATCH
All times EST.
Preliminary schedule, subject to change
Friday, Dec. 7
9:20 a.m. - Men and women’s moguls, Ruka, FIN - Olympic Channel & NBC Sports Gold
3:00 p.m. - Men and women’s moguls, Ruka, FIN - Olympic Channel*