- Tess Johnson
2019 World Championships!
The last blog I wrote was after the early season World Cups in December, and obviously a lot has happened since then. The North American stops happened over the course of January where I earned another two super finals and one podium with a bronze on home soil in Lake Placid, NY. That competition was really exciting for our team because Morgan Schild made an incredible return to competition after ACL rehab. Both her, Jaelin Kauf and I got to ski super finals together, and although we left it all out there for a podium sweep, the other competitors simply out-skied us. Casey Andringa and Brad Wilson also skied in super finals together earning 4th and 5th respectively.
After a 7th place finish in Mount Tremblant, Quebec, I earned my spot on the 2019 World Championships team in Deer Valley, Utah. After missing the World Champs team in 2017 by one spot, this redemption felt really great. Going into the event ranked 5th in the world was a major confidence booster, and I was so excited to ski in front of a home crowd as well as the biggest audience on tour!
World Champs still feels like a dream. Singles day was a rollercoaster for me: after crashing in the first round of qualifications I barely made it into finals where I made a last minute decision to switch lines. I, however, am extremely proud of the finals run I put down. I skied fast and aggressive despite the adversity I faced earlier in the day. My chance at super finals was ruined after I went a little too big on my bottom air, but I have no regrets. I think that’s what success is: the satisfaction in knowing you gave every effort you have to reach your full potential. The outcome didn’t go as I’d hoped, but that run was a tremendous success for me.
Next up was duals, and I was hungry. Each round I skied faster and better, and with each mogul I skied, I fed the fierce fire within me. In the semi-final round, I got to ski against my teammate and best friend Jaelin Kauf. We rode the chair together before our dual and I remember saying to each other, “Let’s give ‘em a good show and have fun.” That, we did. Although she beat me in the end, we skied a great dual together and the roar of the thousands Americans below us only pushed us to ski harder. After losing to Jaelin, I knew that I had to win my next and final dual for her. Standing in the gate with my opponent Yulia Galysheva while big snowflakes fell against the night sky was a magical moment, one that I will never forget. The start gate dropped and I could hear the crowd echo in my stomach. The moguls were as tall as me that day, but nothing could stop me. Yulia and I were neck and neck the entire dual and I remember feeling like we were flying down the infamous "Champion" mogul run. I barely beat her across the line and my heart was racing as we awaited the outcome. I heard the crowd behind me explode into cheers and as I squinted at the big screen, my name flashed next to a bronze medal. Immediately overwhelmed with happiness and pride, I embraced that moment with everything I had.
Jaelin unfortunately ended up in second against Olympic champion Perrine Laffont, but she is gold in my heart. Brad Wilson skied to a silver medal as well on the men’s side, and I have never been more honored than I was standing on the podium with my teammates in front of a home crowd. Standing together with the American flag wrapped around us reminded me that it wasn’t about the medals hanging around our necks, rather the passion and enthusiasm we had just skied with. Our hard work had paid off, and our outstanding performance was a reflection of the effort we put in to be the very best version of ourselves. It was a spectacular day, and finding my parents in the crowd after all was said and done, brought tears to my eyes. I will never forget this day.