It’s official: Owens, Johnson make moguls worlds in Almaty |

It’s official: Owens, Johnson make moguls worlds in Almaty

That’s a long flight

Avon’s Kai Owens, center, and West Vail’s Tess Johnson, right, were officially named to the American team on Wednesday for the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in March. (AP File Photo/Rick Bowmer)

How do you get to Almaty, Kazakhstan? Practice, practice, practice.

OK, Almaty ain’t exactly Carnegie Hall, but it is the site of the FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships for moguls, dual moguls and aerials March 8-11, and the official invites for Team USA came out Wednesday.

And, thus, congratulations are in order for West Vail’s Tess Johnson, 20, and Avon’s Kai Owens, 16. They are, indeed, on the road to Almaty.

And in answer to the aforementioned question, we queried for a flight from Denver to Almaty on March 1. If one goes west, it’s Denver to San Francisco to Seoul to Almaty. The kicker there is you have a 20-hour layover in Seoul.

Eastward, it’s Denver to Chicago to Frankfort to Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, and on to Almaty. Apparently west is best, as these ladies are familiar with the trip. Our best guess is they’ll be working for less than a 20-hour layover in the South Korean capital.

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This is Johnson’s second berth for worlds and Owens’ first. Neither is a big shock especially after the most recent World Cup in Deer Valley, Utah, nearly two weeks ago. There, in dual moguls, the American women swept the podium with Owens earning her first World Cup win and Johnson in third with a bronze medal.

If there were any doubt before that comp about these two going to worlds, that was put to rest.

Johnson won the bronze at worlds in Utah in 2019 in dual moguls. Despite an inconsistent schedule — only three sites have hosted a total of five races between singles and doubles — due to COVID and building a new routine with new airs, Johnson has been surprisingly steady in 2020-21.

Despite all the changes, Johnson is 5-for-5 in the finishing in the top 10 and trending in the right direction as Almaty approaches. She’s finished 10-9-4-8-3 in those competitions.

Owens has had a breakout year, only joining the tour a little more a year ago. She earned points in her first two starts last winter and, after 11 World Cup races, found herself on the top step.

There were no surprises as the U.S. picked its four women for worlds moguls. Jaelin Kauf, of Steamboat Springs, and Vermont’s Hannah Soar rounded out the quartet. Soar, Owens, Kauf and Johnson are ranked Nos. 3-6 in the world in the points in 2020-21.

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