PARK CITY — For Bradley Wilson, there was no better place to earn his first podium of the season than at the ski resort that’s supported him since he made the U.S. team.
“For me, it’s the best place to get a podium, by far,” Wilson said of earning the bronze medal at the Freestyle World Cup at Deer Valley Wednesday night with a score of 82.61. “I love this place so much. This is my home mountain. …They’ve just always been backing me, so it’s incredible to do it here and represent Deer Valley at the same time.” Wilson’s bronze was special for several reasons. First, he needs two podiums to objectively make his second Olympic team. Second, he’s been working hard to refine his skiing and Wednesday was one of his most consistent performances.
And third, he earned a spot on the podium on a historic night for one of his close friends and the sport of mogul skiing as Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury earned a record 12th consecutive victory and the 47th of his career with a score of 87.33. Only U.S. skier and two-time medalist Hannah Kearney has more consecutive victories with 16.
“I haven’t won 12 (times),” Wilson said of what Kingsbury’s record means to the sport. “The consistency is insane. The amount of different courses and conditions and crap that we have to deal with. …A lot of people shine in different moments, but Mik is able to come out and nail his run, no matter what the conditions are, and it’s just impressive.”
Wilson and Kingsbury are close friends, and they spend a couple of weeks each year in Sweden teaching skiing to young children.
“He’s the man, and he deserves the crap out of this,” Wilson said, as television cameras crowded around Kingsbury. “He’s such a good dude.”
While none of the U.S. men have locked up a spot on the Olympic team, one of the U.S. women did that with her third podium of the season.
Jaelin Kauf earned a silver medal with a score of 79.57 which not only guaranteed her a spot on the 2018 Olympic team, it earned her the yellow bib indicating the overall World Cup leader.
“My confidence is definitely up there,” said the 21-year-old native of Vail, Colorado. “So it feels really good going into tomorrow with the third podium pretty much guaranteeing my Olympic spot and most likely wearing the yellow bib.”
She said she felt some pressure heading into the first of two World Cups at Deer Valley because of the crowd and the Olympic qualifications.
“I definitely felt a little bit of pressure,” she said. “It’s a big event, a big crowd here, and especially ending up in 16th place was hard.”
Kauf qualified for very last possible spot, and then she made the super final by just one spot. That meant she had the worst run heading into finals and the second-worst run heading into the super finals of those competing.
“But in 16th place, you literally have nothing to lose,” she said. “You can’t go down any further, so you just gotta push it and hope for the best.”
She said she doesn’t remember ever being the last woman to qualify, so she took the approach that helped her manage the pressure.
“I just decided to have fun,” said Kauf, who also had the fastest run of the night for the women. “Like I said, I had nothing to lose, so I just skied my run and had fun doing it.”Comment on this story
It was an effective strategy, and she will compete in Thursday’s World Cup on the same course in the yellow bib. France’s Perrine Laffont earned the victory with a score of 81.88, while U.S. skier Morgan Schild, earned bronze with a score of 78.93. Their U.S. teammate Keaton McCargo earned fourth with a score of 77.09 points.
Japanese skier Sho Endo earned the men’s silver medal with a score of 84.44, while U.S. skier Casey Andringa made his first super final, finishing fifth with a score of 79.62.
The second world cup begins with qualifying tomorrow at 2 p.m. The finals begin at 7 p.m. and are free to the public and will be followed by a fireworks show.