Jaelin Kauf’s season couldn’t have ended on a much higher note last year, with an individual and dual mogul national championship in New Hampshire.
It came after she took the silver medal in dual moguls at her de facto home course at Deer Park, Utah, in front of a packed crowd, many of whom held large Js above their heads as the Alta native made her runs. But last season is far behind and a full season of podium chances await. She’s been in Sweden with the U.S. Ski and Snowboard team since Nov. 4, getting in a three-week training camp before the first FIS open event this weekend.
“It’s just been a big training camp,” she said, reached by phone Monday. “Then there’s the FIS open event this weekend, and we’ll compete in that and use it as a test event for the World Cups coming up.”
The summer had her training at Mount Hood, Oregon, along with training camps in Chile and Switzerland. The weather had been tough, but now in Sweden she’s gotten on snow every day of the camp.
And it’s perfect timing, because despite her successes the past few seasons she’s looking to add new tricks to her runs this season. Chiefly, a backflip mute and a corkscrew 720.
“This summer started with a lot of trampoline work and then I was bringing it into water ramps,” she said. “I did my first corks on snow in Chile in August.
“I feel more comfortable with them than I did to start. It’s a relatively new trick since I just learned it this summer, but I feel pretty comfortable, at least in the air I know where I am and have a good feel for the jump.”
The added difficulty to her air package comes on the heels of a narrow second-place finish at the FIS World Championship in Park City last February. Kauf squared off with France’s Perrine Laffont in the gold medal round and crossed the finish line first.
But it was Laffont’s aerials that impressed the judges most, with the French skier edging the American, 84.74 to 82.59.
“Every year I love competing at Deer Valley, it’s definitely my favorite event,” she said. “Of course, I wanted to do better, as always when you’re not at the top of the podium. … I’m looking forward to redeeming myself there a little bit.”
But with that stop on the tour not popping up again until February, her eyes are on the earlier events ahead. She won’t return stateside until Dec. 17.
“It’s the longest travel we’ve done in my career so far,” she said. “It’s a big chunk of time away from home, but I love it. I get to ski every day and experience different cultures through skiing, so it’s pretty sweet.”