Steamboat Springs moguls skier Jaelin Kauf tops World Cup podium in China | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Steamboat Springs moguls skier Jaelin Kauf tops World Cup podium in China

Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat Today

Jaelin Kauf took home a win and Troy Murphy was third at Thaiwoo Resort at the FIS Freestyle World Cup Thursday. (U.S. Ski & Snowboard)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Jaelin Kauf finished the 2016-17 winter season on fire and now the Steamboat Springs freestyle moguls skier has carried that momentum into the 2017-18 season.

First, she recorded a top-five World Cup finish earlier this month, then early Thursday morning, she won a World Cup, the second of her career.

Competing in Thaiwoo, China, Kauf overcame some early trouble to nail her runs in finals and come out on top. It was the fourth World Cup podium of her career, but the first in a standard moguls event. The other three, plus her 2017 World Championships bronze medal, came in dual moguls.

It's the perfect time for her to be coming up big in standard moguls events, too. Duals isn't contested at the Olympics.

Things didn't start that hot for Kauf Thursday. She had a bobble on a jump on her first run and placed 13th. That was enough to allow her to advance with the round's 16 top skiers, but she was much sharper in her next two runs.

She had the top run in the 16-skier finals, then was again tops in the six-skier super final.

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The result doesn't lock up an Olympic bid for Kauf, but it's an important step in that direction. The automatic U.S. team criteria for moguls requires an athlete get two podium finishes in the seven World Cup events leading up to the Olympics.

Kauf, currently the leader in the season-long World Cup standings, placed fifth in the season's first event in Ruka, Finland. Thursday's event in China was No. 2, and No. 3 is up immediately Friday, a second moguls event in China in as many days.

The remaining qualifying events include a Jan. 6, 2018, stop in Calgary, Alberta, two events Jan. 10 and Jan. 11, 2018, in Park City, Utah, and an event in Tremblant, Québec, on Jan. 20, 2018.

Kauf was at the top of a fiercely competitive U.S. team. Americans finished in every spot between sixth and ninth. Mikaela Matthews was sixth, followed by Tess Johnson, Keaton McCargo and Morgan Schild.

Olivia Giaccio, another athlete who trained in Steamboat Springs, placed 17th and Nessa Dziemian was 36th.

The men had their strongest results of the season, as well.

Canada's Mikael Kingsbury won, but Troy Murphy from the United States was third and Emerson Smith sixth. Bradley Wilson placed 12th and Troy Tully 17th.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9.