Hunter Bailey doubles down in Steamboat
Local mogul skier Hunter Bailey stole the show at the U.S. Freestyle Championships in Steamboat Springs throughout the weekend, bringing home national titles in both mogul competitions — singles and duals.
A former Ski & Snowboard Club Vail athlete, now of member of the U.S. Ski Team, Bailey kicked off the weekend scoring an 84.80 to take the win in the singles event.
“He was really focused and put together great performances all the way through,” said SSCV mogul coach John Dowling. “(Bailey) had kind of a tough year. It was his first year on the U.S. team, and his results weren’t quite as good as what he had in previous years. He really wanted to prove himself, and I think he had redemption in mind.”
He shook off a sixth-place qualifying score and skied a clean middle section with solid airs to maintain the lead as five more competitors tore down the Voodoo mogul course. Another SSCV athlete, Emerson Smith, and Joel Hedrick finished second and third.
“I came into today with the goal of skiing the best run I could ski, and I did that,” Bailey said. “I had kind of a rough season, so it feels good to close things out with the win here. It’s always a goal to be national champion and it feels awesome.”
On the women’s side, SSCV’s Morgan Schild, who landed two World Cup podiums earlier this season, has struggled to find consistency in the latter half of the winter.
After finishing ninth in the qualification rounds, and with the format being a one-run final, Schild had one chance to nail her run. She did just that, crossing the finish line with a big smile on her face.
“The course was so nice today — the workers kept it amazing for us every single run,” Schild said. “As soon as I pushed out of that gate, it was nice, soft, spring skiing conditions. I broke into a smile halfway down and I thought ‘OK, I’m having fun, and I’m going to keep having fun.’ I stuck my cork seven on the bottom air and knew I was home free.”
“I needed this win,” Schild added. “I felt like the beginning of my season was really strong, and then I struggled second half, so I really needed this redemption. It gives me the momentum I need going into summer training and the Olympic season.”
After winning Friday’s mogul competition, Bailey was in fine form to go for another win in duals. Spring conditions made the course soft and allowed the skiers to really push the speed. Bailey battled through some tough duals before meeting SSCV teammate Emerson Smith in the big final. They were neck and neck down the entire course, with Bailey taking the win 18 to 17.
“It feels great to bring home both titles,” Bailey said. “It was super fun today. That dual with Emerson was probably the best dual I’ve ever won. It was a good day.”
It was a hometown win for Jaelin Kauf, who has done well in duals all year, claiming two World Cup podiums and a bronze medal at the 2017 FIS Freestyle World Championships.
SSCV’s Tess Johnson, 16, joined her on the podium with a third-place finish.
For the weekend, other top performers for SSCV included Heidi Kloser (sixth), Gabby Fisher (10th), and Katie Coyne (11th). For the men, it was Dylan Walczyk (fourth), Casey Andringa (sixth) and Trevor Wahl (14th).
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