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Canadian skiers dominate home moguls competition

Alex Bilodeau places first, Mikael Kingsbury second



Canada's mogul team claimed four out of the six medals up for grabs at the World Cup at Ski Mont Gabriel, Quebec this past weekend, with Alex Bilodeau and Mikael Kingsbury placing first and second in the men's dual moguls, and Justine Dufour-Lapointe and Jennifer Heil finishing first and third on the women's side.

That was only the tip of the iceberg for the team. For example, on the women's side, Chloe Dufour-Lapointe was fifth, Audrey Robichaud fifth and Kristi Richards sixth, giving Canada five out of the top six spots. Only Russia's Anastassia Gunchenko could break the Canadian block, winning the silver medal.

"I'm more than happy," said Justine Dufour-Lapointe. "I can't believe that I won my first World Cup here in Mt. Gabriel, and in my home country, for only my third competition on the World Cup circuit."

All told there were three Dufour-Lapointe sisters in the competition, with Maxime placing 15th.

"Racing with my sisters is always fun because we're really close and we don't really fight," said Justone.

"It's more just a mental challenge."

Other Canadians include Alexandra Dufresne in 12th, Beatrice Bilodeau in 16th and Whistler's Chelsea Henitiuk in 19th.

The crowd was thousands deep for the rare dual moguls competition, cheering on the Quebec athletes that make up the majority of Canada's moguls team.

On the men's side, the final came down to a dual moguls contest between Olympic champion Alex Bilodeau, who has yet to win a medal this season, and national team rookie Mikael Kingsbury, who has a gold and silver to his credit.

In the end, Bilodeau was slightly stronger to take the gold while Kingsbury settled for the silver - his third medal in four World Cup starts this year. Guilbaut Colas of France took the bronze medal after beating American Jeremy Cota in the small, or bronze medal, final.

"It feels great to touch the podium again, and I think the results here are really promising for the rest of the season," said Bilodeau, who earned Canada's first-ever gold medal at a home Olympics in February.

Although Bilodeau is just 23, he has already been with the national team for over five seasons and considers himself a veteran. He likes what he sees in the younger skiers.

"What we see here today with the men and women speaks to the excellent job the Canadian (Freestyle) Ski Association is doing and it looks really positive for the future," he added.

As for Kingsbury, he said the Quebec event represented some of the fastest skiing he's ever done.

"I did everything I could today," he said. "Against Alex in the final, I gave all I had, but he was definitely quicker than I was today. Still, I'm satisfied by what I was able to do."

The Canadian men didn't manage five in the top six, but it was a pretty good day with rookies Marc-Antoine Gagnon and Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh in ninth and 10th, Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau in 11th, Arnaud Laurin-Landry in 12th, Cedric Rochon in 13th and Eddie Hicks - a veteran of the Whistler Blackcomb Freestyle Club - in 18th.

There was also an aerials competition. The Canadian team is rebuilding after several vets stepped down after last season, with only Warren Shouldice returning to the men's team. Veronika Bauer was also injured recently in training, and did not return in time, leaving only Sabrina Guerin to represent the national women's team.

On the women's side, Mengtao Xu and Shuang Cheng of China were first and third, with Alla Tsuper of Belarus placing second.

Sabrina Guerin was fifth for Canada, with development athlete Stephanie Pratte in 17th.

Anton Kushnir of Belarus took the men's competition, followed by Guangpu Qi of China and Stanislav Kravchuk of Ukraine.

Travis Gerrits led the Canadians in 10th, with Remi Belanger in 16th. Jonathan Vellner was 28th, and Warren Shouldice - having an off-day - was 32nd.

While the Canadians didn't win any medals, both Guerin and Gerrits posted personal bests in the event.

"It's really hard to podium with the jumps I'm doing," said Guerin, "but my plan for this winter is to consistently land my jumps, that's what I'm working on. I did that today, so I'm really happy."

Gerrits was on track to earn his first World Cup podium but his second landing bumped him back.

"Today I was looking to put two good jumps together, and I did," he said. "I was a little backseat on my landing in finals - I didn't touch, but I still got docked a lot of points for that."




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