Vail’s Tess Johnson wins worlds bronze in dual moguls
Tess brings it home
DEER VALLEY, Utah — Vail’s Tess Johnson is a world championships bronze medalist.
Knock that around for a little bit and get used to it.
The 18-year-old moguls skier captured the bronze medal during Saturday night’s FIS Snowboard Freestyle Freeski World Championships in Deer Valley, Utah, in dual moguls, edging Kazakhstan’s Yulia Galysheva, 82.60-79.28 in the small final, aka the bronze-medal match.
All Galysheva had done on Friday night was win moguls gold at the championships.
Tess Johnson, worlds bronze medalist. It has a nice ring to it.
Waiting … and waiting
Johnson squeaked by Galysheva at the finish line by a ski tip, but in dual moguls, time is only 25 percent of the formula; the rest being scored by seven judges on form and difficulty of jumps among other factors. As the two were waiting for the scores, Johnson looked understandably anxious but kept a smile. She seemed to squint through the snowy night in Utah at the scoreboard and raised her skis in triumph when the bronze was clinched, followed by a happy exhale.
Johnson ran a regular run through the five knockout rounds — a 360 off the first jump and a backflip off the second. This might have become an issue in the race for bronze as Galysheva executed a mute grab, a more difficult maneuver off the first jump.
While Galysheva landed the trick, Johnson’s line in the middle section of the moguls was much cleaner than the Kazakh’s, and that might have been, along with the speed points, the difference.
Johnson and Galysheva both did backflips over the second jump with Johnson gaining a slight lead during the final bumps.
France’s Perrine Laffont won gold, while American Jaelin Kauf took silver.
Moving through the bracket
It was a semifinal of teammates as Johnson took on Kauf with a berth to the finals on the line. Kauf took the clear lead by the second jump and ended up besting Johnson, 79.77-73.56.
However, Johnson advanced smoothly through the field of 32 on the 254-meter course with a 28-degree pitch. In the round of 32, Johnson knocked off Sweden’s Josefina Wersen, who DNF’d. While one happily accepts another competitor DNF’ing, it was clear in these early runs that Johnson was just feeling more comfortable and skiing better on the worlds’ course than she did Friday night, while finishing 12th in the worlds’ moguls final.
Her scores were also going up as the evening progressed. In the round of 16, or eighth final as its known, Johnson took care of Australia’s Taylah O’Neill. In that heat, Johnson got out of the gate smoothly, which O’Neill did not, an important fact. O’Neill ended up DNF’ing, while Johnson’s point total on that run rose to 80.63.
Johnson, seeded No. 6, pulled off the upset of No. 3 Jakara Anthony, of Australia, to advance to the medal rounds. During the quarterfinals, Johnson again was smoother through the middle moguls, while Jakara’s right arm flew back, disturbing her balance. The result was an easy 82.22-64.29 victory for the Vail native.
Johnson, at the ripe old age of 17, finished 12th in the 2018 Winter Olympics in moguls and made her first world champs team this winter.
Johnson earned her first and only World Cup win — to date — in dual moguls in Tazawako, Japan, on March 4, 2018. She added two World Cup podiums in moguls to her resume this season with third-place finishes in Ruka, Finland, and Lake Placid, New York. And after finishing 12th in moguls on Friday night, she rebounded to make the podium in worlds 24 hours later.
And worlds bronze medalist Tess Johnson at worlds really does have a nice ring to it.
Every person who has ever strapped into a board owes a debt of gratitude to Burton.