EagleVail skier Kai Owens returns home Rookie of the Year, 4th overall in World Cup moguls
With 2022 Olympics on the horizon, 16-year-old says she’s hungry for more
The U.S. Ski Team’s Kai Owens is back in the valley after finishing fourth in the overall World Cup standings for moguls this season. The EagleVail resident was also named Rookie of the Year.
“I was super hungry and excited to ski this year since last season got cut short,” Owens said after returning home to Eagle County, recovered from the jet lag from being in Kazakhstan with a 12-hour time difference.
Owens started the season with a broken rib, but she was a force to be reckoned with once she recovered.
“Every event we got to ski, I tried to make the most of it,” she said, adding that this year’s COVID-19 protocols and unknowns made for a challenging season. “It was really different this year mentally.”
En route to her fourth-place World Cup finish this season and Rookie of the Year crown, Owens qualified for every World Cup event she entered and led the American sweep in Deer Valley, Utah, in February — her first career World Cup dual moguls podium, and win. In the World Cup opener, she made her first super finals appearance in Ruka, Finland, finishing sixth. She successfully hit some of her performance goals, such as a cork mute, and also learned from her experience at the world championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
“Honestly, every event was a pretty big high for me,” she said.
Owens joined the U.S. Ski Team two years ago and is looking forward to the possibility of a full slate of World Cup races next season, with 2022 also being a Winter Olympics year in Beijing.
“I’ve been wanting to go since I was little and starting the sport,” the 16-year-old Owens said of the Olympics. “It’s definitely been in my head and it’s my overall goal to be there.”
With a whirlwind of a World Cup season now complete, Owens is switching into school gear to finish the semester. The 16-year-old attends Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy and said she is looking forward to some “active rest” as well, including hiking, swimming, freesking and working out in the gym. She’s sponsored by the Athletic Club at The Westin in Avon, where she swims and works out in Mikaela’s Corner.
“I’m definitely more emotionally drained than physically,” she said of the season. “It was definitely challenging.”
Owens is quick to thank her coaches, teammates and family for the support during an unusual season. She also credits her time with sports psychologist Lauren Ruhl.
“She’s helped me a ton this year, so shout out to her,” Owens said of Ruhl. “She and I have just worked a lot on focusing on what I can control. At the end of the day, it’s my skiing that I can control.”