Salt Lake City’s Jaelin Kauf is ‘so proud’ after winning silver in Olympic moguls

All four Team USA skiers reached the 12-person final; Australia’s Jakara Anthony nabbed the gold.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Silver medal winner Jaelin Kauf (USA) reacts after a run in women’s moguls at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, China, on Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022.

Beijing • Jaelin Kauf may have been the one with the silver medal dangling from her neck Sunday night following the women’s moguls competition at Zhangijakou Genting Snow Park. But her Olympic roommate says she took one for the team.

The Salt Lake City skier consistently turned in the fastest times on the course in working her way through the Olympic qualifiers, finals and super finals. She saved her fastest run for last, however, moving into first place with just one more racer to go.

“When it popped up and I realized that I was getting an Olympic medal, that it was guaranteed,” Kauf, who grew up in Wyoming, said of her score, “I was, well, I don’t know, just so proud.”

Australia’s Jakara Anthony, 23, kept Kauf, 25, from the gold, though. While she didn’t go as quickly down the course, judges preferred Anthony’s form and style to Kauf’s. Russia’s Anastasiia Smirnova earned bronze.

All four Team USA skiers reached the 12-person final. Seventeen-year-old Kai Owens, who was skiing with a black and puffy eye from a crash she had suffered on her second day of training, placed ninth. Hannah Soar took seventh while Olivia Giaccio reached the super final but opted not to perform her cork 1080 — the triple twisting trick that in January she became the first woman to pull off in competition — and placed sixth.

Team USA’s women have grown closer than the gap between their skis in recent years as they adopted an only-as-strong-as-your-weakest-link mentality that has made them one of the most dominant countries in the sport. Kauf, a two-time Olympian, has brought veteran swagger and a big sister vibe to the squad.

“Jaelin has been in a great headspace this whole week and it’s been really great to watch her. She is a second-time Olympian and, once again, I’ve been … just kind of like holding onto the coattails, and like you follow and be [are] … basically being a little sister. You’re just following along in the group trying to be there with her.”

Kauf was the top-ranked moguls skier in the world when she placed seventh in Pyeongchang in 2018. She brought a different mindset into China, she said.

“For these Games, I was skiing to win every single round,” she said. “I wanted to walk away with absolutely no regrets in my skiing and just put it all out there and persevere.”

She’ll also be walking away with the second medal for the United States in these Winter Games and the USA women’s first moguls medal since Hannah Kearney won bronze in 2014. That is, unless it’s in the hands of one of her teammates.