Adopted US moguls skier eyes return to China as Olympian

DENVER (AP) — The jade necklace was a present. These times, it serves as a reminder, and probably even a image of a lot more good issues to appear.

Amy and Jonathan Owens gave that necklace to their adopted daughter, Kai, a long time in the past. It was one of the items they gave each individual 12 months to Kai, who they adopted when she was all over 16 months outdated. Right before that, Kai had been nurtured in an orphanage soon after getting remaining by her beginning mom and dad at a town square in China.

Now 17, the U.S. moguls skier is in the mix to return to China in February, potentially to be found out all over again, but this time, in a much diverse way.

As Kai gears up for the Olympics in the place she was born, it would be tough to blame her for contemplating the jade necklace may well glance wonderful paired subsequent to a different shade — possibly bronze, or silver, or gold.

“Some major stars aligned for me to be right here now,” stated Owens, who’s in the jogging to make the U.S. freestyle group with four qualifying gatherings remaining. “It’s hard as a child, contemplating about being deserted and left. But I identified a wonderful property, a excellent enthusiasm for some thing that I enjoy and I have a fantastic relatives. I’m absolutely grateful and fortunate.”

The little one, then acknowledged as “Shiqi,” was adopted from an orphanage in the Anhui Province, a day’s travel from Beijing, and taken to the mountains of Colorado, which is wherever her enthusiasm for snowboarding sprouted.

She is, in many ways, a regular American teen, complete with a Nike Air Jordan shoe collection and a French bulldog named Mochi. She also embraces her roots, celebrating Chinese traditions and carrying the jade necklace for overall health and good luck.

Her title, Kai, interprets into “victorious,” and no matter what occurs in excess of the subsequent number of months, she feels as although she’s gained.

“When they are handed to you, it’s a blank slate,” said Amy, whose family members, which involves 13-year-previous son Bode (also adopted from China) life in Vail. “You have no plan what’s going on, what their proclivities will be. We just hoped that she was heading to be a ski enthusiast mainly because we are.”

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Reviews from the nannies at the orphanage explained Kai as difficult and obstinate, and as the infant who wanted to be hugged 1st each early morning.

Her mom laughs at that now. It can make sense.

To commit to moguls skiing is to dedicate to a life time of bone-jarring bumps, as the skiers endeavor to time out two excellent jumps in concerning a sequence of tightly spaced moguls that ought to be flawlessly traversed at speeds of up to 20 mph.

But when Kai went all in, there was no stopping her.

At 14, she turned the youngest American to acquire a NorAm moguls level of competition. She was named the women’s 2020-21 moguls rookie of the calendar year as element of the freestyle & freeski Planet Cup awards. Even though it is still extremely early, it at the very least gives her a possibility to be part of the likes of Jonny Moseley, Jeremy Bloom and Hannah Kearney on the limited checklist of American moguls greats.

Her most applicable relationship, though, could be with a further American icon — Toby Dawson.

Dawson, the 2006 Turin Online games moguls bronze medalist, obtained pre-Olympic notoriety for his backstory: Living in a South Korean orphanage, he was adopted all-around 3 by two ski instructors and brought to Colorado where by he discovered freestyle snowboarding. His story begat dozens of would-be moms and dads who arrived forward claiming Dawson was their little one. He had to kind via all that, then applied genetic screening to discover who his actual mothers and fathers were.

Dawson’s brush with his past led to a reconnection with his native nation, far too. At the 2018 Pyeongchang Video games, he was a coach for the Korean freestyle crew. Now, he is foremost the Chinese moguls squad.

His information to Owens with regards to her beginning mother and father is straightforward: “Definitely, the low anticipations is critical,” Dawson explained. “They’re likely to have to make her belief back for the reason that there was some purpose that she was put up for adoption. She got placed into an astounding household, like I did, and experienced wonderful prospects.”

Kai is familiar with absolutely nothing about the “Why?” — why she was remaining? Someday, she would like to know the explanation and the circumstances surrounding her abandonment.

“I assume it would be certainly psychological — emotional and challenging for me to kind of experience them. But I would,” Kai explained. “I would certainly notify them, ‘Yeah, I’m all proper.’”

For decades from the 1980s, China limited most couples to just one youngster — which the Owens family suggests is as good a guess as any as to why Kai was remaining in the town square.

They adopted her on Oct. 10, 2005. Her parents call it “Gotcha Working day.” In the leadup, Amy collected 18 provides from China to give to her new daughter just about every Oct. 10.

Five years in the past on “Gotcha Working day,” Kai received the jade necklace. These days, she not often takes it off.

It is a necklace that has been shed and uncovered again. It’s been a supply of pleasure and confusion for Kai in excess of the years — a memento that is occur to characterize her adoption journey.

“Right now, she’s in an accepting place,” reported Amy as she and her husband had been matched with Kai by the Chinese Children Adoption Global. “In her more youthful life, it was like, ‘Nope, I want nothing at all to do with that. I really do not want to study Mandarin. I never want just about anything jade. I never want nearly anything — hold it all absent from me.’

“Because I believe she considered that was sort of a distraction. She’s super hyper-concentrated on her sport. So she just needed to put it aside. But she’s prepared to just accept it and figure out that, ‘I’m touring absent from my loved ones, and I could possibly have to have some of this help from this jade necklace.’”

The household had strategies to travel to China very last summertime for a check out. It would’ve been a way to cut down some of the nervousness about her attainable return for the Olympics. But the restrictions thanks to the pandemic nixed that idea. So she may possibly be heading to China — without the need of her family members since of COVID-19 but barely experience alone.

“My dad and mom have accomplished an outstanding career of generating absolutely sure that we know we’re effectively liked,” Kai stated. “I assume it will just be actually awesome to go back again there.”

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Additional AP Wintertime Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/wintertime-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Athletics

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