Kai Owens appears on ‘Good Morning America’ | VailDaily.com

Kai Owens appears on ‘Good Morning America’

Local moguls sensation is building Olympic momentum

Kai Owens, center, celebrates after finishing first in the finals, between Hannah Soar, left, who finished second, and Tess Johnson, who placed third, in the World Cup women's dual moguls skiing competition Feb. 5 in Deer Valley, Utah.
Rick Bowmer/AP

With 44 days until the Beijing Olympics, everyone is starting to pay attention to 17-year old mogul sensation Kai Owens — even ABC.

The EagleVail resident’s recent exploits — a slew of top 10s to begin the year as well as two podiums in the past 14 days — did not go unnoticed by the folks in New York, who invited the Olympic hopeful onto Good Morning America for an interview Tuesday. The 2021 World Cup rookie of the year touched on her entrance into the sport, what it would mean to return to China — her birth country — and how she is spending her brief holiday respite from training.

The Ski and Snowboard Club Vail athlete was nurtured in a family of skiers and grew up loving all disciplines of skiing, though she admitted the Olympics weren’t really a thought until another Ski and Snowboard Club Vail athlete inspired her.

“The Olympics weren’t really on my radar until my teammate Tess Johnson made the Olympics at 17 years old,” she told GMA’s Amy Robach via the Zoom interview.

“That was my turning moment where I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I could do this. I want this.'”

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Born in China in 2004, Kai was adopted by Amy and Jonathan Owens when she was 16 months old, on October 10, 2005. Each year on Oct. 10, the Owens celebrate “Gotcha Day,” and five years ago, they gifted a jade necklace to their daughter. At the end of her GMA appearance, Kai showed it off.

“I consider myself pretty superstitious and knock on wood — but I think one of my biggest is this jade necklace I wear,” she said in the interview.

“Jade is known to bring good health and good luck, and so I wear it out of superstition every time I put my boots on. For me it also brings confidence and support.”

Owens has not returned to China since her adoption. Her family, which also includes 13-year-old Bode (also adopted from China) had been planning a visit last summer, but COVID-19 restrictions wiped out the possibility. Now, with four Olympic tryout competitions remaining and Owens sizzling, there is a chance she will simply earn herself a trip to the nation she was born in.

“To be able to represent the United States would just be — such an honor. Being able to return to the country that I was born in is extra special and extra personal,“ she told Robach.

United States skier Kai Owens flies over a jump during the World Cup women's freestyle moguls skiing competition Feb. 4 in Deer Valley, Utah.
Rick Bowmer/AP Photo

“It would really just bring everything full circle for me to be able to compete my passion in sports and return to China.”

Owens said she will enjoy a brief break from international travel and competition by spending time with family. On Dec. 27, she will head out to Granby Ranch for the U.S. mogul team’s final training camp in the Beijing build-up.

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