Tess Johnson places third at Tremblant, Canada World Cup mogul event
SSCV teammate Elizabeth Lemley finishes fourth in first career World Cup
World No. 1 Jakara Anthony opened the door, and Ski and Snowboard Club Vail athletes Tess Johnson and Elizabeth Lemley put their proverbial feet in it.
Competing in her first career World Cup, the 15-year-old Lemley qualified for the super final and finished as the second American and fourth overall, while teammate Tess Johnson inched closer to a second U.S. Olympic team bid with her second podium finish of the season, placing third.
“I’m feeling really happy, I just had so much fun today, and I’m really proud to land on the podium after a stressful Christmas and only two days of training,” Johnson told reporters at the finish line. “I took it one run at a time and just focused my attention toward my queues. I also want to congratulate Liz for such an incredible debut. We were only 0.01 points apart, so in a way I share this success with her. It’s always so fun to ski in a Supers with teammates.”
Lemley, who earned two second-place finishes in the individual moguls and won the dual moguls event at U.S. Selections in Winter Park in December, was first to go in the super final and posted a score of 79.24.
“I had a ton of fun today,” Lemley told U.S. Ski and Snowboard.
“All of my mental thoughts were really good. I think the course was fabulous and it’s always great to ski a nice course. Everything about (today) was fun, and I just felt really strong.”
Anthony, fresh off her sweep of the dual and individual moguls at the most recent World Cup in Alpe d’Huez, France, was late to her landing off of the first jump. She couldn’t recover, and her score of 77.40, as well as American Olivia Giaccio’s 77.04, had the youngster in pole position with just four athletes remaining.
Those four would ski cleanly, however, with Japan’s Anri Kawamura posting a winning score of 81.76 on the final run, besting France’s Perrine Laffont by 0.33 points and kicking the World Cup rookie off the podium. Johnson’s second third-place finish in a row could be significant in the Beijing Olympic selection process.
Jaelin Kauf and Hannah Soar have already secured two of the objective Olympic spots on account of their second- and sixth-place rankings, respectively, on the FIS points list. The final objective selection, to be determined by an athlete’s best finish at one of the designated tryout events, currently belongs to Giaccio courtesy of her victory in the Ruka, Finland, opener Dec. 4. Johnson needs a win Saturday in Tremblant or in one of the two events in Deer Valley, Utah next weekend, to force a tie with Giaccio for the final objective spot.
If both athletes were to possess a first-place finish, the second-highest point result from one of the mogul tryout events would be used. Johnson now has two third-place finishes, while Giaccio’s second-best finish is her sixth-place from Friday.
SSCV’s Kai Owens, who also has a top-three finish in a qualifying event (she was third in Ruka, Finland, on Dec. 4), did not compete in Canada.
On the men’s side, no athlete was ranked in the Dec. 14 FIS points list, meaning the three selections will come from athletes who acquire at least a podium finish in one of the qualifying events. So far, the best result in one of the designated events is a fourth-place finish by Cole McDonald at the Alpe d’Huez, France dual moguls event.
According to the selection procedures, “If no U.S. athlete has had one (1) top three result, in the Tryout Events, then any remaining quota slots will be evaluated under Discretionary Selection Procedures in Section 2 or the Remaining Team Nomination Criteria in Section 3.”
Dylan Walczyk, another SSCV alumnus, competed in Tremblant as well, placing 11th as the second American, behind Nick Page in seventh. In the current World Cup overall moguls standings, Walczyk is now the fourth American, 16th overall, just seven points behind of Page, who had trailed him before the competition but now sits in 14th.
Three more tryout mogul events remain: one in Tremblant, Canada, Saturday, and two more in Deer Valley, Utah, next weekend. The Team USA Olympics team nomination is set for Jan. 18.