Brad Wilson of Butte will be looking to move back into the podium ranks while healing an injury this weekend as the FIS World Cup Freestyle skiing moguls tour moves to Tazawako, Japan.
Wilson suffered a bone bruise to his right knee while competing in men’s moguls at the Deer Valley World Cup meet two weeks ago at Park City, Utah. The 24-year-old 2014 Winter Olympian skied with the injury last weekend in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and wound up in 25th place.
Though still a good effort, the placing cost him some spots in the World Cup and Team USA rankings. He fell to 14th from eighth in the World Cup rankings, and is now third on the United States men’s team after being No. 1 since the season began.
The Japan moguls and dual moguls are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday,
Jaelin Kauf of Alta, Wyoming, and Troy Murphy of Bethel, Maine, skied strong in Korea to claim the top U.S. team spots with a pair of fifth-place finishes.
With no particularly difficult jumps or bumps, the Bokwang Phoenix mogul course allowed all the skiers to really push it and lay down their best runs. It also meant that, if even the smallest of mistakes was made, the judges took note.
Coming off a third-place finish in women’s duals at the previous weekend’s World Cup at Deer Valley Resort, momentum was on Kauf’s side. She skied the fastest times of the night to post her best-ever single moguls finish.
“The course was sweet – it was so soft and fast,” said Kauf. “My top airs were big and I was able to carry my speed through the middle section. I’d like to keep trying to go bigger, go faster and make the super finals. I really enjoyed skiing here and I think this will be an awesome venue for the Olympics next year.”
Australia’s Britt Cox continued her podium streak, taking home her fifth win of the season. Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe and Andi Naude rounded out the women’s podium in second and third. Other U.S. skiers making the women’s finals included K.C. Oakley of Piedmont, California, Keaton McCargo of Telluride, Colorado, Olivia Giaccio of Redding, Connecticut, and Mikaela Matthews of Frisco, Colorado.
Murphy, who’s been improving his World Cup finishes week after week, had yet another solid performance against a tough men’s field. He now has three top 10 finishes this season, including two fifth places.
“With these types of courses, you have to make sure everything is looking really clean,” said Murphy. “Since it’s so easy, you can do your biggest tricks and ski fast and more naturally – it’s super fun. I switched up my air package and did a full on bottom, which for me is really consistent, big and fun to do. I thought my jumps were super solid and I’m just going to keep plugging along until I get that podium.”
It was no surprise to see Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury on top of the podium once again, claiming his fifth win of the season. Dmitriy Reiherd of Kazakhstan was second and Philippe Marquis, also of Canada, was third. Tom Rowley of Long Beach, New York, and Dylan Walczyk of Rochester, New York, joined Murphy in the finals, finishing seventh and 12th respectively.
Murphy is now the top-ranked U.S. skier at sixth in the World Cup rankings while Rowley is No. 2 on Team USA and 10th in the world.
Bryon Wilson of Butte, the 28-year-old brother of Brad, is sidelined for the season while recuperating from surgery to repair ACL, MCL and meniscus damage incurred in a fall during a World Cup meet last month. He was the 2010 Winter Olyjmpics Bronze Medalist in men’s moguls.
— Compiled by Bruce Sayler.