Rapid Fire With Jaelin Kauf: The Olympics in Review

Raised in Alta, Wyoming, and on the slopes of Grand Targhee, Teton Valley’s own brought home some hardware from the Beijing Games with a silver medal in Women’s Mogul Skiing. We caught up with her to talk about the past month, her Olympic experience, being home and much more…

Q: Where are you right now?
A: “I am in the Salt Lake City Airport. I am headed to Italy for a few days of vacation and then finishing up the World Cup tour in Valmalenco, Italy, and on to Megève, France for the World Cup Finals.”

Q: It is currently March 3rd. It’s been almost a month since you competed in the Olympics. What has the last three-plus weeks been like?
A: “It’s been pretty busy. It’s actually gone by very quickly. I did a little media in New York immediately when I got back to the U.S. Some skiing and media in Park City as well and then got a little time to hang at home and do nothing as well as come up to the valley, and Targhee and see the fam.”

Q: How was being back home in Teton Valley?
A: “It was really good. I definitely kept it low-key as far as celebrating with the town. I’ll be back to do more of that this spring. But it was so fun to go and free ski at Targhee. Skiing with the family for a couple of days was definitely a highlight of the last couple of weeks off. And obviously, being able to see and hug and hang out with my family has been amazing and very much needed.”

jaelin podium

Q: How was your Targhee experience?
A: “It seemed like all the lifties, and everyone I talked to had watched or seen my run and knew what had happened. That was really cool. It’s just special how many people from Targhee and the Valley were a part of that.”

Q: So safe to say you felt the support?
A: “Absolutely. Up at Targhee, everyone was saying congrats and giving high fives. I got to ski around with some of the kids on TVSEF on my first day back home. That was fun and really special because that was me not that long ago, it seems like. It was so fun to chase them around and get back to my roots.”

Q: What was the media frenzy like after medaling in the Olympics?
A: “I went to New York and was there for two days and basically for two days straight went on every news channel out there and got to talk about mogul skiing and what I do. For myself, that was awesome but especially for the sport. Getting so much exposure and talking about mogul skiing so much was really cool. Overall, a fun experience.”

start gate
oly run

Q: Do you feel like the sport of Mogul skiing showcased itself well at the games?
A: “Definitely. Speaking on the women’s side of things, the level of competition was so high out there. Everyone was really pushing it. Myself with the speed and skiing and so many other girls with their airs. Just all around, it seemed like it showcased our sport the best. And all the pieces of it, not just the air, skiing, or the speed. It showcased all aspects of mogul skiing.”

Q: What are going to be your takeaways from this Olympic experience?
A: “This experience was dramatically different from 2018. I felt really calm this time around. Going into the games, I was bib 14 and not really the greatest season leading up to it. I didn’t feel the pressure or expectations leading up to it this time. This time I really felt the love and support from so many people at home, at Targhee, at Teton Valley, all over really. That was something that I think really helped me to be in the best mind space. Just knowing there were so many people watching, cheering me on, and stoked to support me while I tried my best. That was cool this time around.”

Q: Give us a recap from your perspective of the event.
A: “My goal going into the event was to ski 100% and leave it all out there every run starting in qualifications. Just go out and attack and not be afraid of any mistakes that I was going to make. I’m really happy that I felt like every run I was able to improve upon. I thought that I did everything I could each run and left it all out there but was still able to fund a little speed or strength or aggressiveness every run. The second round of finals at the last Olympics was my last run. I didn’t get an opportunity to ski in the final medal round. When I put a really solid run down this time and saw my score pop up that I was going to the super finals, I was pretty emotional. Just so happy to have that redemption and get that shot this time around. Then at that point, you’re going for the medals, and it’s time to leave it all out there. I wanted to show everyone and myself what I was cable of doing.”

Q: People say winning an Olympic Medal is life-changing. Do you feel that way? Has everything sunk in yet?

jaelin smile

A: “I don’t know if it’s life-changing. I guess it could be. I think of it for not my life necessary, but it’s the first medal a U.S. mogul athlete has won in eight years. I’ve been able to see being home around young kids and freestyle skiers the impact that has. I think that is going to have a big impact on the sport.”

jae hug

Q: Big picture, what’s next for you?
A: “I don’t think I’m retiring any time soon. These Olympics were so fun I definitely want to try for another one. I’ll keep skiing and competing as long as it’s fun, and I had the most fun I’ve ever had competing at the Olympics, so I might as well keep that rolling. I am looking to ski for another four or five years probably.”

Q: In conclusion, any words of wisdom to young skiers out there?
A: “I think that my best advice is to have fun and love what you do for kids or people in general. The biggest thing I’ve learned through this and advice I would have liked to hear when I was younger is to do it your way. Don’t try to do what others are doing just to keep up or because that what you think you should be doing. Love what you do and go about it your own way.”