Flyin’ high at Whiteface
WILMINGTON — Moguls skiers from around the world twisted and turned in mid-air at Whiteface Mountain on Friday, as the FIS Freestyle World Cup made a stop at the Olympic mountain, much to the delight of the assembled spectators.
Qualifications for Friday’s finals took place Thursday, and with the field whittled down to just 16 men and 16 women, one American made the podium.
After one run on the course, which included two jumps that allowed skiers to perform impressive acrobatics, the final six vied for medals in what’s called the super final. American Tess Johnson claimed a bronze with her final score of 72.22, while French skier and 2018 Olympic gold medalist Perrine Laffont placed second with a score of 74.94 and Australian Jakara Anthony earned the World Cup gold with a score of 78.76. Team USA skiers Jaelin Kauf and Morgan Schild — who hails from Pittsford — made the final round but missed the podium
Scores are based on seven judges, and include the skier’s form through the moguls, their time down the run and the acrobatics and landings.
On the men’s side, Americans Bradley Wilson (sixth) and Casey Andringa (fourth) missed the podium, while Australian Matt Graham (80.94) took third, Sweden’s Walter Wallberg (81.47) earned the silver and France’s Benjamin Cavet (84.83) topped the field with his gold medal performance.
Johnson said she was thrilled to earn a spot on the podium.
“I’m super excited about how I skied. I definitely think I could’ve accessed some better skiing in that final run, which is why I’m shocked I did end up on the podium,” the Vail, Colorado native said. “But I’m really grateful and I had a ton of fun out there.
“(My season) is going great, I’m skiing better than I could have asked for, and to get my second podium of the season is amazing. I’m thrilled.”
Anthony said she pulled it together for the win.
“I think that I really managed to get it together in the end. I did some great training runs and I was happy with my first competition runs, but really managed to step up my game in the last run and put together all the bits that I’ve been working on,” the Aussie said. “My season’s been going great so far. I’ve had all pretty much personal best results, so (I’m) just stepping up my game this season and skiing how I know how to.”
Cavet said he was happy to make the final round after placing sixth in the first run, and despite a little equipment trouble, the Frenchman was all smiles at the top of the podium.
“I just sneaked through to the super final in sixth place, the final position possible. That’s how competitions happen sometimes, it’s not just smooth, there’s ups and downs,” he said. “I managed to get the good run I wanted in the super final and get the first place. I broke my (boot) buckle just before my (first) run, so I did it with a broken buckle and then got back up to the top and repaired it, so I felt more confident.
“It’s quite cool being sixth, because you have nothing to lose so you can just send it and you can only get a better position, so that’s the mindset I was in. The season’s been good, I started off strong. And then last week in Calgary I took too many risks and skied out, so this was a nice way to bounce back.”
After Friday’s competition, Laffont sits atop the overall standings, Anthony is in third and Johnson is seventh. For the men, Wilson is now the highest ranked American in 12th and Andringa is 14th.
The Freestyle World Cup continues today with the aerials at the Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid. The next stop on the circuit is in Tremblant, Quebec next weekend.