Park City • A background in gymnastics has nearly become a requirement for success on the Freestyle Ski World Cup moguls circuit. Athletes draw on the body positioning they learn in that sport to perform increasingly complex sets of flips, twists and spins at two junctures along the course.

So how did Hannah Soar, who has no gymnastics background whatsoever, build one of the deepest catalogs of jumps of any active female moguls skier in the world?

“Well, that's actually a good question,” the aptly named Soar said, “because I would say I am definitely not a natural jumper.”

“I was never the one who, like, loved to jump on the trampoline endlessly or went to gymnastics. I was just the person who was free bumping all day and just loves skiing,” she added. “And then I was like, shoot, there's jumping involved in the sport? I got to figure that out.”

Figure it out she has. Two days after finishing as the top American with a fourth-place finish in single moguls at Deer Valley Resort, Soar flew onto the podium Saturday. With the silver medal, the skier from Somers, Conn., kept alive the streak of an American woman finishing on the podium at every World Cup moguls stop since 2003. She also moved up two spots to No. 6 in the World Cup rankings.


Two of her teammates, Jaelin Kauff and Tess Johnson, also shot into the women’s semifinals. Kauf, a Salt Lake City resident, won a silver medal on the same course last year at the world championships. This year the 23-year-old crossed the finish line first in her semifinal against Soar, but Soar's bigger jumps landed her the better score. Johnson also advanced to semis with an upset win over France’s Perrine Laffont, who has won every World Cup event this season. Kauf then beat out Johnson, 19, of Vail, Colo., — who took the bronze last year — for third place.

“I definitely think we have a sweep coming soon,” Kauf said. “I mean, Tess and Hannah are incredible skiers. I think we definitely have a really strong female team right now, and the results are just going to start coming.”

(Julie Jag | The Salt Lake Tribune) U.S. Ski Team moguls athletes Jaelin Kauf, left, and Hannah Soar share a moment before taking the podium at the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup dual moguls event Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, at Deer Valley Resort in Park City. Soar took silver and Kauf took bronze. Canada's Justine Dufour-Lapointe won gold.


In the men’s event, Kalman Heims, 19, of Westborough, Mass., made his first dual moguls World Cup start and was the only U.S. man to advance to the evening program. He gave Ben Cavet of France, the No. 3 ranked man in the world, a race before losing his first heat.

Dual moguls is not yet an Olympics sport, but there has been a concerted push to get it into the Winter Games as soon as Turin 2026. Saturday’s estimated crowd of 8,500 boisterous spectators seemed to support that effort.

Soar actually had to throw a new trick — a back tuck to back grab — to get herself into the super final Thursday and again Saturday. That trick has a lower degree of difficulty than most of her other jump combos, like a cork 720 or back full. She calculated, however, that the speed she could gain on the Champions Course, one of the longest on the tour, would outweigh the points she would get from a harder and riskier maneuver.

That’s the benefit of having four staple jumps in her arsenal. It’s also the complication.

“As my coach said, it's a great asset to have that many options. No one else does. But it's also hard because you have to know when to play each card and be adaptable,” Soar, 20, said. “So when I show up to training on day one at an event, I try all my tricks in different places and I kind of look crazy out there. They're probably like, what's she going to do now? That's kind of fun though.

“It keeps people on their toes. They have no idea what I'm going to do until I show up in the gate and they're like, ‘All right, let's see what Hannah's going to do today.’ And that's kind of a cool thing that no one else on tour, I think, has to the extent that I have right now.”

Soar said she spent “God knows forever” trying to master just one trick, the back full, when she was 13. She only picked that one because she thought the 360, considered less difficult, was impossible. After more than three years, Soar added another jump, the cork. It came to her easier than she expected because, she said, she had been so diligent about perfecting her form on the back full. From there, the jumps have just multiplied.

Soar isn’t the only skier adding to her repertoire. Kauf, one of the fastest skiers on the World Cup tour and ranked No. 5 overall, is working a cork 720 into her skill set this season with an eye toward the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

“It's been tough trying to figure out a new air,” she said. “My just normal run — helli to back exit — that I've been doing the past couple seasons, like I know I can do well with and know I can podium. So it's definitely been tough to kind of take that step back and be willing to make mistakes to try something new. But it's been fun. I've skied out of it both times, landed it. So, successful so far. And starting that process now, it's going to pay off in the next couple years.”

The U.S. women will be pushing each other higher and higher. It’s something Soar is looking forward to.

“Honestly, it’s just another step in my path,” Soar said of her medal. “It’s not the end and it’s only the beginning. And I’ve got great teammates, great coaches to help me keep stepping up the ladder and learning every day.”


RESULTS
Women’s dual moguls
Justine Dufour-Lapointe, Canada
Hannah Soar, USA
Jaelin Kauf, USA
Also: 4. Tess Johnson, USA
Men’s dual moguls
Mikael Kingsbury, Canada
Ben Cavet, France
Walter Wallberg, Sweden
Also: 12(t). Kalman Heims, USA
(Julie Jag | The Salt Lake Tribune) U.S. Ski Team moguls athletes Jaelin Kauf, left, and Hannah Soar share a moment before taking the podium at the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup dual moguls event Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, at Deer Valley Resort in Park City. Soar took silver and Kauf took bronze. Canada's Justine Dufour-Lapointe won gold.