PARK CITY, Utah — Athletes from all over the world are at Deer Valley Resort this week, flipping, flying and racing down the course, hoping to get on the podium at the 2021 Freestyle International Ski World Cup.
However, this year's competition looks completely different due to the pandemic.
“I think all of us are just really thankful that we get to compete,” said Jaelin Kauf an athlete with the U.S. Ski team.
Kauf is known as the fastest woman in the world on the moguls World Cup tour and joined the U.S. team in 2016.
“[Deer Valley] the longest course that we ski, it’s steep and everything about it is just challenging,” said Kauf.
While the course looks the same this year, everything else will be different. No spectators in the stands and no events under the lights at night.
“I know people love this event, we love this event, the athletes love this event, you’ll see the athletes talk about coming home, this is the home of the US skiers and they love competing in front of the crowd and it’s one of the best courses on the circuit and so it’s just this year, let’s just respect that we can’t have anyone up here at the venue,” said Emily Summers, the Senior Communication Manager with Deer Valley Resort.
Kauf says she's used to seeing 8,000 fans packed into the event space at Deer Valley each night, with the crowd's energy impacting the competition. But she says she's not going to let the changes affect her performance this weekend.
“This is still my favorite course and my favorite competition, whether people are at the bottom of the course or not and especially this year, I’m just so happy that we are able to ski here and make this event happen,” said Kauf.
Amazingly, Kauf is able to still compete after fracturing her back about a month ago.
“I was able to get back in the bumps at the end of last week and just slowly work my way back into skiing full runs,” said Kauf.
The 2021 Freestyle International Ski World Cup will be televised and stream online. Competition starts Thursday and runs through the weekend.