Jaelin Kauf ends U.S. moguls medal drought at worlds, Mikael Kingsbury breaks records


Jaelin Kauf earned the first U.S. moguls medal at a world championships in eight years, a silver on Saturday to end the nation’s longest podium drought in the event.

The U.S. is the most successful nation in Olympic moguls with 12 medals, but had not earned a world championships medal since the last of Hannah Kearney‘s four medals in 2015 (a silver). From 2003 through 2015, the U.S. earned at least one moguls medal at seven consecutive world championships, then had none in 2017, 2019 and 2021.

Kauf followed her Olympic silver medal last year by finishing runner-up on Saturday to 2018 Olympic champion Perrine Laffont of France. Laffont tallied 87.40 points in her super final run to Kauf’s 83.56. Austrian Avital Carroll took bronze in Bakuriani, Georgia.

“Post-Christmas and the second half of the [season], really focused on my strengths,” said Kauf, who had the best time in the super final contrasted to Laffont’s air superiority. “That’s skiing with speed and executing the jumps that I have to a really high level. I feel like I’m really pushing the sport.”

Kauf added another silver behind Laffont in Sunday’s dual moguls, the head-to-head discipline that makes its Olympic debut in 2026.

“Definitely going for the gold both days, but I’ll settle for second,” Kauf said with a laugh. “That last run, in the gate, I was telling myself, ‘You’re skiing to win. Leave it all out there last run,’ and that’s exactly what I did.”

In 2018, Kauf entered the Olympics ranked No. 1 in the World Cup standings and finished seventh. In 2022, Kauf entered the Olympics ranked 19th in the World Cup and finished second. This year, Kauf entered worlds ranked fourth in the World Cup.

The 26-year-old Kauf’s parents were both pro tour moguls champions. They never competed in the Olympics, but both later took up ski cross. Her mom made X Games podiums in 1999, 2000 and 2002.

Laffont broke the female record with her fifth total moguls and dual moguls world title, surpassing Traa and Canadian Jenn Heil.

At last year’s Olympics, Laffont shockingly finished fourth after missing just two World Cup podiums in the four-year Olympic cycle.

Australian Jakara Anthony, who won the Olympics last year, placed 17th on Saturday, her worst finish in a top-level moguls or dual moguls event since January 2018.

In Saturday’s men’s moguls, Canadian Mikaël Kingsbury became the first man or woman to win four world titles in the event, breaking his tie for the record with Frenchman Edgar Grospiron, who won gold in Olympic moguls’ debut in 1992.

“I came here with no pressure because I told myself, you know, I’ve won six times at world championships [between moguls and dual moguls], so why put pressure again?” Kingsbury said.

Kingsbury scored 89.82 points, relegating Australian Matt Graham to silver (88.90) and Sweden’s Walter Wallberg to bronze (88.52). Wallberg upset Kingsbury at last year’s Olympics.

Then on Sunday, Kingsbury won his fourth world title in dual moguls, breaking this tie with fellow Canadians Heil and Alexandre Bilodeau for the most in that event.

Peacock airs live coverage of the world freestyle skiing and snowboarding championships. The next finals are in snowboard slopestyle on Monday.

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Football takes significant step in Olympic push

Flag Football
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Football took another step toward possible Olympic inclusion with the IOC executive board proposing that the sport’s international federation — the IFAF — be granted full IOC recognition at a meeting in October.

IOC recognition does not equate to eventual Olympic inclusion, but it is a necessary early marker if a sport is to join the Olympics down the line. The IOC gave the IFAF provisional recognition in 2013.

Specific measures are required for IOC recognition, including having an anti-doping policy compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency and having 50 affiliated national federations from at least three continents. The IFAF has 74 national federations over five continents with almost 4.8 million registered athletes, according to the IOC.

The NFL has helped lead the push for flag football to be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games. Flag football had medal events for men and women at last year’s World Games, a multi-sport competition including Olympic and non-Olympic sports, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Football is one of nine sports that have been reported to be in the running to be proposed by LA 2028 to the IOC to be added for the 2028 Games only. LA 2028 has not announced which, if any sports, it plans to propose.

Under rules instituted before the Tokyo Games, Olympic hosts have successfully proposed to the IOC adding sports solely for their edition of the Games.

For Tokyo, baseball-softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were added. For Paris, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were approved again, and breaking will make its Olympic debut. Those sports were added four years out from the Games.

For 2028, the other sports reportedly in the running for proposal are baseball and softball, breaking, cricket, karate, kickboxing, lacrosse, motorsports and squash.

All of the other eight sports reportedly in the running for 2028 proposal already have a federation with full IOC recognition (if one counts the international motorcycle racing federation for motorsports).

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Helen Maroulis stars in wrestling documentary, with help from Chris Pratt

Helen Maroulis, Chris Pratt

One of the remarkable recent Olympic comeback stories is the subject of a film that will be shown nationwide in theaters for one day only on Thursday.

“Helen | Believe” is a documentary about Helen Maroulis, the first U.S. Olympic women’s wrestling champion. It is produced by Religion of Sports, the venture founded by Gotham Chopra, Michael Strahan and Tom Brady. Showing details are here.

After taking gold at the 2016 Rio Games, Maroulis briefly retired in 2019 during a two-year stretch in which she dealt with concussions and post-traumatic stress disorder. The film focuses on that period and her successful bid to return and qualify for the Tokyo Games, where she took bronze.

In a poignant moment in the film, Maroulis described her “rock bottom” — being hospitalized for suicidal ideations.

In an interview, Maroulis said she was first approached about the project in 2018, the same year she had her first life-changing concussion that January. A wrestling partner’s mother was connected to director Dylan Mulick.

Maroulis agreed to the film in part to help spread mental health awareness in sports. Later, she cried while watching the 2020 HBO film, “The Weight of Gold,” on the mental health challenges that other Olympians faced, because it resonated with her so much.

“When you’re going through something, it sometimes gives you an anchor of hope to know that someone’s been through it before, and they’ve overcome it,” she said.

Maroulis’ comeback story hit a crossroads at the Olympic trials in April 2021, where the winner of a best-of-three finals series in each weight class made Team USA.

Maroulis won the opening match against Jenna Burkert, but then lost the second match. Statistically, a wrestler who loses the second match in a best-of-three series usually loses the third. But Maroulis pinned Burkert just 22 seconds into the rubber match to clinch the Olympic spot.

Shen then revealed that she tore an MCL two weeks earlier.

“They told me I would have to be in a brace for six weeks,” she said then. “I said, ‘I don’t have that. I have two and a half.’”

Maroulis said she later asked the director what would have happened if she didn’t make the team for Tokyo. She was told the film still have been done.

“He had mentioned this isn’t about a sports story or sports comeback story,” Maroulis said. “This is about a human story. And we’re using wrestling as the vehicle to tell this story of overcoming and healing and rediscovering oneself.”

Maroulis said she was told that, during filming, the project was pitched to the production company of actor Chris Pratt, who wrestled in high school in Washington. Pratt signed on as a producer.

“Wrestling has made an impact on his life, and so he wants to support these kinds of stories,” said Maroulis, who appeared at last month’s Santa Barbara Film Festival with Pratt.

Pratt said he knew about Maroulis before learning about the film, which he said “needed a little help to get it over the finish line,” according to a public relations company promoting the film.

The film also highlights the rest of the six-woman U.S. Olympic wrestling team in Tokyo. Four of the six won a medal, including Tamyra Mensah-Stock‘s gold.

“I was excited to be part of, not just (Maroulis’) incredible story, but also helping to further advance wrestling and, in particular, female wrestling,” Pratt said, according to responses provided by the PR company from submitted questions. “To me, the most compelling part of Helen’s story is the example of what life looks like after a person wins a gold medal. The inevitable comedown, the trauma around her injuries, the PTSD, the drive to continue that is what makes her who she is.”

Maroulis, who now trains in Arizona, hopes to qualify for this year’s world championships and next year’s Olympics.

“I try to treat every Games as my last,” she said. “Now I’m leaning toward being done [after 2024], but never say never.”

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