Meet the Athletes: Jaelin Kauf
Jaelin Kauf has strong roots in mogul skiing as both of her parents, Patti and Scott, were on the pro tour. The Wyoming native has tallied seven World Cup podiums in moguls since her 2016 debut, winning three times, and is a two-time world medalist in the non-Olympic dual moguls event.
As part of our preparation for the 2022 Games, NBC Olympics sent questionnaires to multiple athletes to learn more about their lives on and off the snow or ice. Here’s what we found out about Kauf:
JAELIN KAUF, MOGULS
Birthplace: Vail, Colo.
Hometown: Alta, Wyo.
Residence: Salt Lake City
Past Games: 2018
Team USA | U.S. Ski & Snowboard
FAMILY & UPBRINGING
Tell us about your family.
❝My parents, Patti and Scott, were both competitive skiers on the pro mogul tour. They met and had my older brother Skyler and I while still competing. We were raised in the world of skiing.
❝After retiring from mogul skiing, my mom went on to compete and win three medals in ski cross at the X Games. My brother and I both fell in love with skiing and competed through high school. My brother went on to play college football and I pursued skiing further. My parents divorced when I was about 5 years old. In 2010, my mom married my stepdad Squeak, and I gained two more siblings, Matt and Shelby. In 2020, my dad married his wife Muffy.❞
Who do you live with?
❝My brother and I bought a house together two years ago, but sadly he got a job back in our hometown and moved out this year. I now live with my boyfriend and another roommate.❞
Where does your family come from?
❝My dad’s family is from Germany originally, and my mom’s family is from Sweden and Norway.❞
How influential were your parents in your athletic aspirations?
“They were a huge part of it. They taught me my love and passion for skiing and being in the mountains. They were always such big supporters of whatever I wanted to do. They never pushed me to be a freestyle skier like them, but I think they love that I found my passion in it as well.”
❝I actually chased my brother into the sport. He is only a year older than me, and as a kid I wanted to do everything he did. He loved moguls – I didn’t at the time, but I wanted to follow him and gave in eventually.❞
Did you attend college?
❝Currently in college. DeVry University [studying] multimedia design and development.❞
Top five spots in your hometown?
❝My favorite food in my hometown is Teton Thai. If you’re looking for a dinner spot in town, definitely go here – it’s delicious and the best Thai food ever! If you’re looking for coffee and baked goods, Rise [Coffee House], our local coffee shop, is the place to go!
❝You have to check out Grand Targhee Resort if you come through Teton Valley. In the summer there are endless mountain bike and hiking trails for every level, featuring waist-high wildflowers. Or you can ride the lift up for incredible, up close view of the Grand Teton. The refill blower powder is what Targhee is known for in the winter. After traveling and skiing all over the world, this resort still has my heart. The skiing and atmosphere here is pretty amazing!
❝The Tetonia Club is a local bar, owned by my dad. It was the original bar in the valley in 1912 and was revamped and reopened a few years ago. Whether in the main bar or the back patio, the bar typically featur[es] live music and dancing and is always a good time! The Spud is our local drive-in and only movie theatre and a really fun summer night activity!❞
How has your hometown shaped who you are today?
“My hometown has played a huge role in getting me where I am today. As a kid I had this crazy dream of going to the Olympics. My town and community was such a huge support system for me and always believed and supported me every step of the way.”
❝When I was 13 years old, my family moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, to be a part of their Winter Sports Club. Teton Valley was so encouraging and happy to watch me chase my dreams. As I chased these wild dreams, I knew that this community and this valley was right behind me. I know that they are so proud of me doing what I’m doing. They don’t care about the medals and results but just love watching me push myself and give it my all and that truly means the world to me.
❝I wouldn’t be where I am or have the passion and love for the mountains that I do without this place. And lucky for me, I also gained another community and support system along the way. I went to high school and did two post-grad years in Steamboat Springs. I was a part of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and this is where I was really able to chase my Olympic dreams.
❝Living in Steamboat, being an Olympian was never out of the question. It seems like half the valley is made up of Olympians. For me, seeing these other Steamboat Olympians, I knew that I could make it happen too. I gained this whole other community that stands behind me and believes in me and really made my Olympic dream a reality.❞
Where else have you lived?
❝I was born in Vail, Colorado, and moved to Wyoming when I was 3. I was born and raised in Alta, Wyoming, and moved to Steamboat Springs in 2010 with my mom, stepdad and brother when I was 13. I moved to Park City area in 2016 when I was 19 and have been in the area since.❞
LIFESTYLE & TRAINING
Typical training day?
❝I like to have an hour to wake up and drink my coffee before getting ready for skiing. Wake up at 7:30 a.m. for a 9 a.m. training session. Start my warmup at 8:30 a.m., get my ski gear on and be ready to ski by 8:50 a.m. Usually train for two to three hours on a course. If we have a workout that day, I’ll do that as soon as we’re done skiing. Then eat some lunch, maybe take a nap and hang out until dinner. After dinner I do some yoga and regeneration for training the next day, then fill the rest with books and games with teammates!❞
How much time to you train? How much do you sleep?
❝Three hours on the hill and possibly up to an hour of gym time. I sleep at least nine hours everyday.❞
What’s your favorite workout?
❝Short and sweet. I’m not one to hangout at the gym for a long time so I like to get it done and get out. I love doing leg workouts – squats, lunges, hamstring work and some stability work. Also squats and hamstring curls superset with shoulder work and plyometrics, and then finish it with some neck and core exercises.❞
Surprising things regarding training for Olympics?
“We train 12 months of the year, constantly working to perfect a single run. When it comes to the Olympics, if we compete in all the rounds, we only compete for a total of one minute.”
❝Also, we jump into a pool for training in the summer.❞
Experience during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic?
❝I was at home in Salt Lake during the lockdown. I got a good home-gym setup going during the pandemic which made training at home really easy. I thought it was actually really great for my mental health and training.❞
Have you ever been seriously injured?
“I fractured my back at the start of 2021. I crashed freeskiing into a tree. Luckily I did not have to have surgery and was able to compete five weeks later.”
Any nutrition plan? (e.g., calories, meals)
❝I am pescatarian, so lots of veggies! I don’t follow any nutrition plan or restrictions in my diet. I eat very healthy but I eat whatever I want.❞
❝Tillamook Ice Cream – really any flavor, but Udderly Chocolate is the best.❞
REFLECTION & OLYMPICS
Earliest memory of participating in sport?
❝Like many people, I did not originally like moguls. I would have rather skied powder or ripped groomers. But my brother loved moguls and started to compete in them, so I followed.
❝My first event was at Sun Valley on one of the flattest, easiest courses, and I fell so many times, including a faceplant on the finish line. I was the only one my age so I got a medal! I was pretty hooked after that. I fell in love with every aspect of the sport.
❝I tried all the sports that I could, but I really felt mogul skiing was so unique. It combines speed and style and air in a way that no other sport does, and you have to perfect it all into a single moment, a single run.❞
Earliest memory of watching Olympics or Paralympics?
❝I remember watching Toby Dawson get bronze at the 2006 [Torino] Olympics. My parents coached him as a kid at Vail, and so we had this family connection and relation to him. It made it so cool watching this event with a connection like that. I don’t know if I was thinking about wanting to go at that point, but it was never out of the question in part to that.❞
Specific breakthrough moment?
❝In 2016 I won U.S. Selections and had the opportunity to ski in my first World Cups. At my first Deer Valley World Cup, I had no expectations, but I qualified for super finals in first position. I messed up my final run and ended up sixth.
❝The next night I had my first World Cup podium in dual moguls. Before I skied in a World Cup, I had never watched one. I thought it would be a good opportunity to compete in one, but I assumed their level of skiing was wayyyy above mine. I didn’t think I was at the same level as those girls and I didn’t think I was a World Cup-level skier, but after that weekend, I knew I could be competitive here. I knew that I was going to have to work for it, but I was good enough to be there.❞
Who is your coach?
❝My main coach now is Byron WIlson. I was on the ski team with him until he retired in 2018. I am dating his younger brother (Brad Wilson), my teammate, as well. He is a really amazing coach and I am really loving working with him.❞
Who do you socialize with most within your sport?
❝I probably socialize most within my sport. Freestyle is a small, pretty tight-knit community and we are all pretty good friends. I’m also friends with other athletes in U.S. Ski and Snowboard.❞
❝My biggest rivals are my teammates but also my best friends! It’s very friendly. We are always pushing each other and building each other up. It’s a really cool team and support system. They are my best friends and always pushing me to be my very best.❞
Have you ever worked with a sports psychologist?
❝Yes, I started working with a sports psychologist last season. I have dealt with a lot of anxiety and think that working with a sports psychologist is just another tool to help me be my best mentally.❞
Biggest fear when competing?
“Of leaving a little extra in the tank and knowing that I didn’t ski my run how I can. I am not afraid of making a mistake and falling, but about taking it easy and not doing my thing.”
Greatest influence within/outside sport?
❝My mom is my biggest role model. She is so brave and strong and has always pushed the boundaries of what people thought she could do. She completed in the X Games until she was around 40 and walked away with three medals. She tried to make another comeback for the 2010 [Vancouver] Olympics, but unfortunately tore her ACL in the process. She always taught me to believe in myself and chase my dreams with everything.❞
Advice you’d give a young athlete?
❝Have a lot of fun. If you love it and are having fun, that is all that really matters. Enjoy all the experiences and opportunities that you have. Take advantage of every training run, competition, powder day and opportunity that you have and just enjoy it!❞
Best part of living in the Olympic Village?
❝Meeting all the other athletes. It’s pretty crazy being in a village full of people just like you. People from all over that have dedicated their life to their sport the same way you have. And you all have so much respect for one another because you know that you could never do their sport.❞
Which Summer Olympic event would you like to try?
❝Surfing and skateboarding!❞
Any pre-competition rituals?
❝I listen to ‘Amazing’ by Kanye West.❞
Are you superstitious?
“I have a pocket in my jacket full of little charms from my mom.”
PASSIONS & PERSONALITY
Any teams/athletes that you are a fan of?
❝Las Vegas Raiders.❞
Do you have a nickname?
How do you unwind after a competition?
❝Hanging with teammates and family.❞
Do you collect anything?
❝Playing cards, trail maps and shot glasses. My brother started collecting trail maps of everywhere we skied when we were kids, so I copied him on that one. I don’t remember why I started collecting playing cards, but I have been since I was little so I have way more than I can regularly play with now. When I started traveling for skiing I wanted to get my brother something cool from everywhere I went so I started to get him shot glasses and now we have about 30 shot glasses at home.❞
Which charities or nonprofits do you support?
❝Plastic Free Fridays as an ambassador. Became involved recently, inspired by watching climate change around the world and my passion for consciously limiting waste.
❝Women’s Sports Foundation. My mom was involved with them when she was a competitive athlete and we were able to get involved together while I was competing.❞
Do you have any fears or pet peeves?
Personal motto or inspirational quote?
“Deliver the Love.”
A woman that inspires you?
❝My mom is my biggest inspiration.❞
❝Drawing, surfing, biking, hiking, camping and gardening.
❝I love surfing and go on a surf trip after the competition season with my mom every season. Surfing is such a challenging and humbling sport and it is so much fun pushing myself in another sport so foreign to me. I love mountain biking with friends, family and especially my boyfriend. Mountain biking is very similar to skiing in a way where you have to look ahead and pick out your line and just go with it sometimes. It can be a challenge or it can just be a fun way to get out in nature with friends. Anything in the water. I love going to the lake and playing behind the boat on a surfboard or water ski. I just love being in the water and it’s fun to challenge myself with another sport.❞
Music of choice while training?
❝’Amazing’ by Kanye West.❞
Must-have items in your gym bag?
❝Headphones, heart-rate monitor, water bottle, sandals, lacrosse ball and mini bands.❞
If you could hear from one celeb, who would it be?
Favorite social accounts?
❝Zero Waste Store, Plastic Free Fridays.❞
IN THIS STORY
Retired Olympian Brad Wilson joins Wasatch Freestyle coaching staff
Wilson takes over as the new moguls head coach
‘On cloud nine’: Jaelin Kauf reacts to silver medal in mogul skiing
Adrienne Bankert, Tom Palmer Posted: FEB 15, 2022 / 10:34 AM CST | Updated: FEB 15, 2022 / 12:36 PM CST