Kuhn finishes as top American in aerials | ParkRecord.com

Kuhn finishes as top American in aerials

Local Derek Krueger highest-finishing American man

Kaila Kuhn of the United States spins and twists during a jump on Friday night at Deer Valley Resort.
David Jackson/Park Record

Kaila Kuhn was the last American standing during Friday night’s World Cup aerials event at Deer Valley Resort. 

Three American women and two American men qualified for the finals, but only Kuhn qualified for the last round. At the last minute, she switched her run in the final six to a double full-full. Kuhn flew through the dark Park City sky and stuck the landing to complete her run.

It wasn’t enough to secure a medal in the end, but it was sufficient for Kuhn, who lives and trains locally, to finish fourth, which ties her best finish this season. Danielle Scott of Australia won the women’s event, with Canadian Marion Thenault in second and Fanyu Kong of China in third.

“It’s a little bittersweet just missing that podium,” Kuhn said. “But I’m happy. I threw down one of my newer jumps, so I was happy to have landed it and walked away from here with a fourth place healthy and ready to hopefully head to worlds in a few weeks here.”

On the men’s side, Park City Ski & Snowboard alumnus Derek Krueger scored a ninth-place finish, which is tied for his best World Cup result ever. Krueger landed a full-full-full in qualifying to make it to the finals, then put down a full-double full-full in the finals. His score of 93.36 wasn’t enough to move on, however.

“Takeoff just wasn’t really there,” Krueger said. “It was flipping too fast, not twisting fast enough. The whole twist was delayed throughout the entire trick, and it just made it hard to land.”

“This year has been pretty rough at the beginning,” he added. “Had a few injuries, just wasn’t jumping very good. This is a good confidence booster.”

Krueger had family there to watch him compete, and Deer Valley is a special place for him. Krueger hails from Cleveland.

“I did my first competition here when I was on (Park City Ski & Snowboard),” he said. “Over the years, just keep impressing. A lot of my old teammates on Park City Ski & Snowboard competed with me today, and it was super fun.”

“My mom and brother came out just for this competition,” he added. “It was awesome, one of the few times they get to watch me in person.”

Ukraine’s Dmytro Kotovskyi won the men’s event and did it in style. Kotovskyi nailed Jeret “Speedy” Peterson’s famous “Hurricane” move – a triple backflip with five spins – in the final six to easily ski away with the win. Kotovskyi trained at the Utah Olympic Park over the summer and finished in third place at a FIS water-ramping competition there in August. 

Two Chinese skiers, Tianma Li and Shuo Chen, rounded out the rest of the men’s podium. Two more Ukrainian athletes finished in the top six. 

American frontrunner Chris Lillis, ranked third in the World Cup standings after Friday, finished in 11th place. He fell trying to land a full-double full-full. 

Kuhn has finished in the top six in all four World Cup events so far this season, and she sits in fourth in the standings, just ahead of teammate Ashley Caldwell. Kuhn is hoping to finally break through soon. 

“I’ve managed to get top-sixes in all four events and just missing the podium every time,” she said. “But I’m happy with how everything has gone, and hopefully next time I’ll grab a podium.”

Attention will now turn toward world championships, which start later this month, and preparing for that played a role in Kuhn’s last run of the night.

“It’s always kind of been a toss-up for me, I tend to go for my easier trick in the super final,” Kuhn said. “I decided to go for my harder trick today to practice for some future events, and, yeah, I think it paid off. Super happy.”


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