Over the past three seasons mogul skier Mikael Kingsbury has dominated on every World Cup course in the world in every kind of condition, so why should the slushy course outside of Sochi, Russia, be any different?
On Friday, Feb. 15, Kingsbury won gold on the Olympic course at Krasnaya Polyana, with teammate Philippe Marquis pulling up third behind American Patrick Deneen.
“I am excited,” said Kingsbury. “I think this is the biggest thing I have won so far in my life so it’s crazy. I have never won a World Championship or the Olympics, and this is the Olympic test event.”
In fact, Kingsbury is undefeated on the course, having dropped into a Europa Cup moguls contest last year to get a sense of the course and winning that event.
Kingsbury is only on his third season on the World Cup tour, and already has 29 medals to his credit. So far this season he has five gold medals and a bronze, missing the podium only once when his ski popped off mid-course. While he’s more or less a lock to compete for Canada in 2014, the win in Sochi guaranteed him a spot in the Olympics.
“I don’t know what to say, it’s like a dream coming true,” he said. “Finally I have the Olympic dream coming to me, it’s a dream that started when I was sitting on my couch with my dad and y brother watching the Salt Lake City Olympics 11 years ago, this is where it starts.”
For Marquis, one of several strong mogul skiers on the team, a bronze medal was just the thing.
“I came here with a good vision and I skied my best,” he said. “I like the course, I like the snow, even if it’s difficult,” he said. “I’m really happy because this was one of the biggest events of the season and I had my best result. I think I had a great week.”
Reigning Olympic champion Alex Bilodeau had a disappointing day after he crashed on his second jump. “I landed just perfect but I guess I was the first man to go in that line and because it was so soft I went deep, my ski dug into the snow and I couldn’t do anything,” he said. “But it happens, it’s nothing you can control and with the slush here it could have happened to anyone.”
Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh was ninth, Marc-Antoine Gagnon 13th and Bilodeau 14th.
In the women’s event, Americans Hannah Kearney, Eliza Outtrim and Heather McPhie were first, second and fourth with Aiko Uemura of Japan picking up the bronze. The top Canadian was Audrey Robichaud in fifth, followed by Justine Dufour-Lapointe in seventh, Chloe Dufour-Lapointe in ninth and Andi Naude in 13th. The other Canadians, including Whistler’s Chelsea Henitiuk, did not qualify for the 16 skier final.
It’s only the second event in the past two seasons where a Canadian did not finish on the podium, and Justine Dufour-Lapointe had to surrender the women’s leader bib to Hannah Kearney.
The moguls competition is just one event in a combined freestyle and snowboard World Cup event taking place in Russia, wrapping up at the end of the month.