Bumps in her blood: Olympian's family made for moguls

Alta's Jaelin Kauf runs the course during the women's moguls qualifying at the 2018 Winter Olympics on Friday in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Kin Cheung, AP

PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA — Jaelin Kauf finished just 0.78 points shy of reaching the third and final run in the Olympic women’s moguls event Sunday at Phoenix Snow Park in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Alta native finished seventh overall.

After placing second among 20 skiers in her first run, Kauf made a minor mistake in the second round that cost her a spot in the six-skier finals. Her seventh-place finish was the best result of the four Americans competing, but not the one the world’s top-ranked moguls skier desired.

“It’s crazy how quickly it went by,” Kauf, 21, said. “I can’t fully put into words the heartbreak that I’m going through.”

Kauf made a minor mistake at the top of her second run that bumped her out of the final round.

Despite having the fastest run of the 12 semifinalists in the second round, the error dinged her overall score and kept her from racing for the podium.

“I think I just kind of rushed it a little bit once I landed top air,” she said. “I was a little impatient to reach the first mogul and it just kicked me a little bit and I had a couple bobbles in there. Overall it felt like a solid run. I was super proud of my run before that.”

On her first run Kauf looked like the skier who has racked up four podiums in seven World Cup events this season. The crowd roared as she crossed the finish, and early on it looked like it would be her night.

But the run she had been imagining for two months did not occur.

“Since I qualified for the Olympics I’ve just been visualizing that run over and over,” she said. “I thought that if I wanted it bad enough it would happen.

“You watch the final six (skiers) go and it takes perfection,” she added. “You can’t make a mistake. I made one bobble, two bobbles in the middle section, and that was it.”

Kauf was in tears as she hugged her mother, Patti, and the members of her support crew that included about 10 people who traveled to South Korea for the competition.

She had pictured this day in her head, she said, but never thought it would conclude with her watching the final runs from the sideline.

Kauf was distraught in the moments immediately following the biggest event of her life, but she had already begun to set her sights on her next goal.

“This is just motivation,” she said. “I’m still wearing the No. 1 bib going into the next (World Cup) event and now really shooting for that crystal globe for the World Cup title. Now I take what I learned today and try and perfect my run as much as possible and get that consistency down for the rest of the season.”

Jackson’s three-time Olympian, Resi Stiegler, received a start in Monday’s scheduled women’s giant slalom race, but the event was postponed due to high winds. The race has been rescheduled for 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time on Wednesday.

Stiegler is scheduled to compete in the slalom at 6:15 p.m. Mountain Time on Tuesday.

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Sports Editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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