America stomped it out on home snow at Deer Valley at Saturday’s FIS Dual Moguls World Championships. The crowd was electric as Jaelin Kauf (Alta, Wyo.) claimed silver, Tess Johnson (Vail, Colo.) skied to bronze and Bradley Wilson (Butte, Mont.) took his second consecutive silver World Championships dual moguls medal. Kauf added her to her World Championships hardware as well, as she took bronze in duals in 2017.
“Tonight was incredible,” said Kauf. “I mean I am so exhausted from this week but I skied as hard as I could tonight and I’m really proud of my skiing and myself. I’m stoked to be on the podium with both Brad and Tess tonight, it’s incredible”
France’s Perrine Laffont was crowned women’s dual moguls World Champion. On the men’s side, Mikael Kingsbury won his second World Championships gold of the 2019 events and Japan’s Daichi Hara claimed bronze.
A highlight of the night was the women’s American semi-final when Kauf and Johnson dueled together. “To have Tess and Jaelin face off for spots in the small final and the big final was so much fun,” said U.S. Head Moguls Coach Matt Gnoza. “They are such supportive teammates of each other.”
Kauf beat out her friend and teammate Johnson, and moved on to the big final, taking on Laffont, Friday night’s bronze medalist in the single event. It was a showdown to the end. Although Kauf beat Laffont to the finish line, Laffont had the scoring edge with cleaner airs and turns overall.
In the small final, Johnson took on the newly crowned women’s moguls World Champion, Kazakhstan's Yulia Galysheva, and skied a faster, cleaner run to win her the bronze snowflake medal. This was Johnson’s first ever World Championships appearance, in a 2018-19 season which has been a breakout year for the rising star with two other podiums so far. It is clear Johnson will be a force to be reckoned with as the eighteen-year-old continues to come into her own.
“It feels like nothing I’ve ever felt before, standing on the podium here tonight,” said Johnson in front of the massive Deer Valley crowd. “I’m on cloud nine and I don’t think I’m ever going to come down. I just had the most fun tonight and skiing against my best friend and teammate Jaelin was more than I could ever have dreamed of. To end up on the podium, I’m just so grateful. I’m having the time of my life!”
Deer Valley’s own Bradley Wilson dueled against Daichi Hara of Japan in the semi-final in which Hara threw one of the most astonishing sights ever seen in moguls skiing, an unexpected double-backflip, a monster trick the Japanese star almost landed. Dual moguls are renowned for its pure sporting and entertainment value, sometimes bringing out the crazy in the athletes, and the crowd went wild after Hara recovered.
The “duals animal,” as Matt Gnoza calls Bradley Wilson, gave it his all in the big final, where he challenged Kingsbury and just beat the Canadian over the finish line. Dual moguls is a judged event, so even though two skiers seem to be racing, form and execution count. Kingsbury had the cleaner run and therefore was awarded the first place.
“Kingsbury and I have had some really good duels in the past, but he’s won the majority of them,” said Wilson. “Every time he’s just able to throw down his best run when he’s with me. It’s frustrating. You know I need him to make just a little bit of a mistake, but of course, I couldn’t expect it. He’s just an incredible skier and an incredible dude.”
The Americans kept Kingsbury on his toes all night. Casey Andringa (Boulder, Colo.) fought with Mikael in the quarter-final, and managed to stay in front of him the whole run down. “Skiing against Kingsbury is just the most fun thing ever, especially this late in the day,” said Andringa. “You’ve got nothing to lose, the dude’s the best that’s ever been so I knew I was going to give him my all and leave everything out there and I feel confident that I did that. Tell you what Mick, next time I’m going to land that bottom air and kick your butt!” Andringa, in his first World Championships appearance, finished fifth overall.
The U.S. Moguls Team will be celebrating their three medals on Saturday night and after a few days off, head next to Tazawako, Japan, for another double event where they will compete in both moguls and dual moguls World Cup events.