Vail skier Tess Johnson starts season with a career-first World Cup podium in single moguls | VailDaily.com

Vail skier Tess Johnson starts season with a career-first World Cup podium in single moguls

Tess Johnson, right, on the World Cup podium in Ruka, Finland, on Friday, Dec. 7. The third-place result was the Vail skier's first trip to the podium in single moguls competition.

VAIL — While Vail skier Tess Johnson has found much success and even a win in dual moguls, she says her first World Cup single moguls podium might be more meaningful.

Fans of the sport might tell you it's the less exciting of the two variations of moguls skiing contested on the World Cup circuit, but single moguls is the discipline that's in the Olympics, and for Johnson, the singles event has proved to be the more difficult to master.

Johnson earned her first single moguls World Cup podium on Friday, Dec. 7, in Ruka, Finland.

The fact that it was also the first FIS Freestyle World Cup moguls event of the 2018-19 season made the accomplishment even more sweet.

"It really kicks it off nicely," Johnson said following the competition. "I'm going into the rest of the season with a lot of confidence."

STRENGTH AND SPEED

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Johnson's single moguls results haven't been quite as impressive as the 18-year-old's dual moguls results, but she did have five top 10 single moguls finishes last season, including a fourth-place result which secured her a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. She finished 12th at the Olympics.

Following that season, Johnson hit the gym.

"I've always been one of the smaller athletes on tour, so this prep season a huge focus for me was just getting as strong as I could while maintaining my speed and athleticism," Johnson said. "A lot of weightlifting, power jumping … I think that contributed to me being able to ski faster."

Moguls skiing, which is timed and also scored, favors athletes who can make it through the course the fastest, while performing difficult tricks off jumps in the course.

Johnson said the area of mogul skiing which she sees the most room for improvement at the moment is in her speed. With an assumption that more strength will translate to more speed, "I'm guessing that played a huge part in my run today," Johnson said on Friday.

PERFECT CONDITIONS

Moguls skiing consists of several qualifying rounds before an athlete competes in finals. U.S. Ski & Snowboard head moguls coach Matt Gnoza said Johnson was fast through the moguls portion of the course between the two jumps throughout all rounds of competition on Friday.

"She was dominating the middle section all day today, being very aggressive, very athletic in her turns," Gnoza said. "She carried that momentum into her bottom air, charged it with a nice big 360. Tess made a few adjustments in her run for super finals, cleaning up her run to land her in third."

It was a perfect day for moguls skiing in Ruka, Gnoza added.

"The resort always does a great job hosting, they treat everyone well and put on a quality event," he said. "It was a perfect course, we had perfect conditions. The jumps allowed athletes to go big and carry big speed. Everything we've been working on was there for them to take advantage of, and Tess really stomped it out."