Vail’s Kloser gets ﬁrst World Cup podium
VAIL – When Vail residents Mike and Emily Kloser get an early morning phone call from their daughter Heidi overseas, they never know what to expect.
But in Saturday’s 7:30 a.m. call from Austria, they received some of the best news they’ve ever heard from Heidi – she’d made the podium in a World Cup event.
“This call was one you wake up to and are extremely happy to hear the news,” Mike Kloser said on Saturday afternoon. “We’re incredibly excited for Heidi.”
The second-place finish – Kloser’s first podium in World Cup competition – came after another top-10 finish last weekend, a seventh-place effort at the season opener in Ruka, Finland.
Kloser told her parents that her outstanding qualifying run, and the Kreischberg course itself (one of the flatter on the circuit), had her feeling good about her chances going into the finals.
“I qualified second, which is the highest I’ve ever qualified, so I went into finals really excited,” she said.
Dual moguls World Cup competition pits athletes against each other in a head-to-head format on a jump-and-bump course, with judges scoring the athletes on technical turns, speed and aeriel maneuvers to determine a winner. Some formats have mogul skiers side-by-side only in the final rounds, with a seeding system used to determine those finals, but the format used at Kreischberg on Saturday was similar to NCAA basketball, where competitors were seeded down to a field of 16, followed by four rounds of duals.
Kloser went head-to-head against her teammate Eliza Outtrim in the round of 16, besting her to make it to the round of eight where she defeated the Canadian Chloe Dufour-Lapointe. In the final four, Kloser knocked out Austrian Brittney Cox to qualify second into the final round against teammate Heather McPhie.
“I had a bit of a sloppy run against Heather, but I’m really happy with my second-place finish,” she said.
McPhie is undefeated in dual moguls so far this season, winning every matchup in Ruka, as well, where she defeated Kloser in the round of eight.
“It was great going into finals with Heidi,” McPhie said after the event. “When I saw her coming up the cat, I couldn’t have been more excited for her.”
Moguls coach Garth Hager said the finish was one of the best he’s ever seen.
“Both Heather and Heidi were very consistent today in trusting their speed into the bottom jump where they were able to make up ground,” he said. “They trusted their skiing and didn’t worry about what anyone else was doing. In doing that they were able to make the bottom as clean and fast as they could.”
McPhie knew that for Kloser, qualifying for finals with a guaranteed podium was a milestone accomplishment for the young skier. McPhie, 28, has eight years seniority on Kloser, who just turned 20 in September. In Ruka, McPhie defeated Kloser in the round of eight
“As soon as I saw her, I told her ‘I’m going to be competitive in about five minutes, but right now I’m so stoked for you,” McPhie said. “The U.S. is killing it right now, and this was a great Christmas present for all of us!”
Kloser, McPhie and the rest of the Americans will get to spend Christmas at home in the U.S., with the European wing of moguls competition over for now.
“We’re so excited that Heidi will be here for Christmas,” Mike Kloser said. “She’ll work with the Ski Club Vail coaches here during the break and also help coach some of the young athletes.”
Kloser will return to competition Jan. 17 with a World Cup moguls event in Lake Placid, N.Y.