It puts me in an amazing position for qualifying for Pyeongchang. I honestly couldn’t ask for anything else. —Morgan Schild on her bronze performance Thursday night
PARK CITY — Normally, the epitome of stoicism, Morgan Schild let her emotions say what her words could not.
“I definitely just collapsed into my mom’s arms,” the 20-year-old New York native said of qualifying for her first Olympic team with a third-place finish at the FIS Freestyle World Cup at Deer Valley Thursday night. “I couldn’t hold back my tears and excitement. It’s a huge relief of pressure right now. I’m on cloud nine.”
Schild earned bronze with a score of 78.76, while her teammate Jaelin Kauf, who locked up her spot on the 2018 Olympic team with a silver in Wednesday night’s World Cup, earned a victory with a score of 81.37. France’s Perrine Laffont took silver, earning a score of 80.38, just a day after winning on the same course.
“My run today was just sticking to what I know, kind of consistent and conservative, making sure I got those first two runs down before (I) let it go in the Super final,” said Schild, who competed with the most difficult tricks in the women’s event. “It puts me in an amazing position for qualifying for Pyeongchang. I honestly couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Her mom, Lorraine Schild, couldn’t watch the run that earned her daughter a trip to the Olympics.
“I put my eyes to the ground and I video on my phone,” Lorraine said. “I ask everyone around me how she’s doing. I trust the crowd; when they cheer, I know she did well.”
Lorraine Schild said the family would celebrate this historic moment by booking flights to Pyeongchang. The family was so careful not to make any assumptions about the possibilities of this season, they didn’t even mention the goal for which Morgan has been striving.
“We don’t say the O-word in our house,” Lorraine said smiling. “Not until now. We’re very excited.” One of the reasons Lorraine said they were careful in their daydreaming is that the U.S. women’s team is so talented.
“This group of girls is so strong,” Lorraine said, “anything could have happened this week. I’m glad (the judges) respected Morgan’s jump package here. It’s impressive. And in the future, I think it is the standard. There are some 13 and 14-year-old girls coming up and that run is standard. She’s running from them.”
Mogul skiers are required to navigate a mountainside of moguls with two jumps off of which they perform tricks. Schild’s degree of difficulty was higher on both jumps than any other woman.
Someday Morgan Schild will consider what Deer Valley means to her, as it has become the stuff of dreams for the young skier. She won her first World Cup after being sidelined by a knee injury for 22 months last year at Deer Valley. This year, she earned back-to-back bronze medals on the Champions Course, which secured her spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
“I definitely thought (her Olympic dream) was in question a couple of those months in rehab,” Morgan said. “Throughout this process and week after week of my knee being super solid, and my attitude being super solid, I’m on cloud nine.”
She joins Kauf in being the only other mogul skier to lock up a spot on the Olympic team.
Kauf said she skied with less pressure, but no less purpose.
“I’m going to stay aggressive,” she said of the remaining competitions before the Games. “It’s kind of like tonight. I want to push it, keep skiing aggressive. This is just training so when it comes to the Olympics, I can put down these runs.”
On the men’s side, Canadian Mikael Kingsbury earned his 13th straight victory with a score of 88.80. Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Reiherd earned silver with a score of 83.66, while Matt Graham, Australia, finished with bronze, earning a score of 82.37.
Friday night Deer Valley is host to the aerial World Cup with the U.S. athletes planning some of the toughest tricks ever attempted in the sport. The finals begin at 8 p.m., and it is free and followed by fireworks.