Two Americans medal as U.S. women make statement in dual moguls at Deer Valley
Hannah Soar deserves some buffalo wings.
After a long day of competition that ended with a silver medal in the dual moguls FIS World Cup on Saturday at Deer Valley Resort, all Soar was looking forward to was resting and some good food.
“I feel tired, real tired,” she said. “… Some of the parents rented a house here, so we are just going to go back there and celebrate. I don’t know what we are eating tonight but I do love buffalo wings. … If there’s anyone out there, please bring me some.”
Heading into Saturday night, the U.S. women’s moguls team knew how tall the task was going to be if they were going to show out on home soil. With big-time competitors like France’s Perrine Laffont, Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe, Australia’s Jakara Anthony and Kazakstan’s Yuliya Galysheva — the top four ranked moguls skiers in the world — also competing in the competition, the young Americans wanted to make sure they sent a message.
Consider it delivered.
Led by Soar, Jaelin Kauf and Tess Johnson, the U.S. women knocked off Laffont and Anthony in separate rounds en route to putting three women into the semifinals, which guaranteed the Americans two medals.
“I think we definitely have a (podium) sweep coming soon,” said Kauf, who won bronze. “Tess and Hannah are incredible skiers. … I think we definitely have a really strong female team right now and the results are going to start coming.”
Altogether, it was a huge night for the Americans, who entered the World Cup at Deer Valley with a lot to prove. As some of the youngest teammates on the World Cu circuit out there, Soar, Kauf and Johnson all proved that they are going to be dangerous — not only for the rest of this season but for the World Championships next year and the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
It was quite the weekend for Soar, whose silver followed a fourth-place finish in Thursday’s moguls competition. Soar beat teammate Jaelin Kauf in Saturday’s semifinals before falling to Dufour-Lapointe in the big final.
Knowing she was facing one of the best in the world, and with a crowd of 8,500 awaiting her arrival down Champion run, Soar wanted to focus on having a clean run and not let the nerves get the better of her, which she accomplished for the most part.
“I’ve never been in the gate for first or second before but I definitely showed some rookie mistakes in there,” she said. “… Hopefully next opportunity I have after that, I can go out there and ski my run. Sometimes it’s a big crowd and you really want to win and you start focusing on what you want instead of how to get there. That’s OK because it’s all a part of the process.”
For Kauf, the result under the lights on Saturday was vindicating after a tough performance on Thursday in the moguls competition didn’t go her way. Her fifth-place finish in Thursday’s super final was met with boos from the crowd, which was frustrated with the judges for giving her what they perceived as a low score despite her finishing with the fastest time down the course.
“It’s not exactly what I was expecting after the run, but there’s nothing I can do about it except move and get ready for Saturday,” Kauf said Thursday night.
That made getting the bronze medal in front of her family and friends all the sweeter, although she knocked Johnson off the podium after the two battled it out in the small finals run.
“I just had a lot of fun skiing again tonight and the result came with it,” she said. “… Definitely stoked about ending the weekend on the podium. It’s just about finding the fun in skiing and doing my thing out there.”
Although she didn’t medal on Saturday night, Johnson had the best run of the day when she took down Laffont in the quarterfinals. Laffont entered Saturday as the heavy favorite after having won all prior six World Cup events this season.
Johnson defeated Laffont 81.81 to 80.05, crossing the finish line first as those extra points proved to be the difference. She then lost to Lapointe in the semifinals by 0.35 points, the closest race of the evening, despite beating her down the course.
Heims advances to Round of 16
As American Kalman Heims stood atop Champion run on Saturday night, the snow was barely falling but the course was getting increasingly more difficult. With temperatures dropping to single digits, Heims was just looking for a good showing as he faced off with France’s Benjamin Cavet, the No. 3 ranked men’s moguls skier in the world.
“I’m feeling amazing because the energy in this place is unreal,” Heims said. “… This event is like no other on the tour. Being able to put it down at such a great place was an unreal experience.”
For Heims, just making it to the night portion of the competition was encouraging because it was his first start ever in a World Cup dual moguls event. Although he came up short against Cavet, who went on to finish second, his showing proved that the 19-year-old is a rising star in the American ranks.
“I was very overwhelmed at first by looking down at a sea of people,” he said. “… My heart was beating out of my chest, I can’t really describe.”
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