The Power of Four
By Dan Greeson
Jaelin Kauf trains in Chile.
Friendships are key to a team’s success.
Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club powerhouse moguls athletes Olivia Giaccio, Jaelin Kauf, Kenzie Radway and Avital Shimko are all on the 2019-20 U.S. Moguls Team, and the bond between these four women, through their connection to the Steamboat community, remains strong this season.
“During competition, I will absolutely root my heart out for those three because I know they work hard and are deserving of success,” Giaccio says. “Whether skiing-related or not, I know they’ll be there for me through my ups and downs.”
“I know that each of these girls has my back and we have a very strong team dynamic,” Radway says. “As the youngest, I look up to each of these ladies and admire their hard work, determination and kindness.”
Giaccio and Kauf have been side by side from the start. “For me, it has been really fun being on the same path as Olivia,” Kauf says. “Since we started skiing World Cups, we’ve been doing everything together, and it’s really cool to both develop as team leaders and move on from being rookies to being veterans.”
At some point in each of their athletic careers, the four were involved in SSWSC and its training ground at Howelsen Hill. “Our coaches, family and friends in Steamboat believe in us and our dreams and have given us the opportunity to pursue them with everything that we have," Kauf says.
Radway, born and raised in Steamboat, started in the SSWSC Little Toots program at age two and progressed through all of the programs up to the High-Performance Moguls Team. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many hard-working coaches and teammates that continually support and challenge me,” she says.
“I have fond memories of training and laughing together in the freezing cold Bald Eagle Lake with these girls,” Shimko says. “Going through unique experiences like this automatically takes our friendship to the next level.”
All four women trained hard to prepare for the 2019-20 season, fine-tuning technical skills, improving execution of tricks or rehabbing previous injuries. Kauf spent a portion of her summer training in Chile. “I have been working on some new tricks on the water ramp and bringing them to snow,” she says.
Giaccio says she worked on the technical aspects of her skiing this past summer, improving consistency specifically on her back full (laid out back flip with 360-degree spin), cork 7 (off-axis backflip with 720-degree spin) and cork 10 (off-axis backflip with 1080-degree spin). “I can’t wait to see how it plays out during the upcoming competition season!” she says.
“For me, last year was pretty taxing, both emotionally and mentally,” Giaccio says. “I competed the most difficult trick package in the world at almost every single event – a feat that was new to me. Throughout the season, as I worked to get consistency under my belt, I unfortunately made frustrating mistakes in several competitions, costing me results I knew I had the potential to attain. I’ve learned so much about myself as a competitor – namely, that I need to trust myself because I’m more than capable of succeeding at whatever I put my mind to – over the course of the past year. I’m hungry to put it all to the test and finally compete at my absolute best.”
Kauf’s aim this season is to add new tricks to her repertoire. “I have learned and competed variations of backflips, but really nothing brand-new in a long time, so that is a big thing for me this year,” she says. “Last year, I went into the competition season trying to build off of the season before. I took the same jumps, same run and tried to improve it and improve my consistency with that run. This year may be completely different.”
Unfortunately, Radway tore her ACL in March 2019 – the same injury that sidelined Shimko during World Cup season last year – and can’t compete this season. “Avital has been a mentor to me as I progressed through the same stages she went through just a few months earlier,” Radway says.
As these four women face the challenges and successes moguls skiing has to offer, the bond between them grows.Update: since the time this article was written, Kenzie Randway is back on snow and training in Steamboat.