There's just something about Calgary for Mikaël Kingsbury.
The Deux-Montagnes, Que. moguls skier posted his fifth consecutive Freestyle World Cup win at Winsport Canada's Canada Olympic Park on Jan. 3, posting a strong 85.78 score in darkening and chilly conditions.
"I had a really great day and really followed our plan," Kingsbury told the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association website. "I knew I had to be intelligent with my skiing. For me it's five straight victories here and I'm super happy because the conditions weren't great. I'd like to mention how great Simon (Pouliot-Cavanagh) skied too. It was a great day for him and our team. Our coaches really prepared us well for this competition."
The victory vaulted Kingsbury back into contention for a fourth World Cup title after a challenging ninth-place finish in Finland to open the season last month.
Just behind Kingsbury was fellow Canadian Pouliot-Cavanagh, who scored 82.98 to edge out Japan's Sho Endo for silver.
"To get my best result ever in Calgary is great," Pouliot-Cavanagh, of Quebec City, told the site. "It's a tough course and I performed well. I kept my intensity up and skied very well throughout the entire day. I could not ask for more to start the year this way."
American Hannah Kearney took the women's gold after notching a score of 83.76, finishing just ahead of Montreal sisters Chloé and Justine Dufour-Lapointe, posting tallies of 82.45 and 80.93, respectively. Penticton's Andi Naude was fourth after a 79.12.
All four podium-finishers were awarded the Sarah Burke Award, including a $5,000 cash prize, from Winsport Canada.
Alpine skiers notch top-10s
Two Canadians finished back-to-back in Audi FIS Ski World Cup slalom action in Zagreb-Sljeme, Croatia on Jan. 4.
Erin Mielzynski of Guelph, Ont. hit the top-10 for the first time with a sixth-place finish, while Marie-Michèle Gagnon of Lac-Etchemin, Que. was a spot behind for her third slalom top-10 of the campaign. The two posted two-run times of two minutes, 00.68 seconds and 2:01.01 respectively.
Neither skier was even within a sniff of their finishing spots after the first run, as Gagnon was 16th and Mielzynski 17th, but their second runs were the sixth and third-best, respectively.
"The second run, we made some adjustments and it worked out," Alpine Canada Alpin head coach Jim Pollock told the organization's website.
American Mikaela Shiffrin was the gold medallist with a time of 1:56.66.
Canadians Candace Crawford and Brittney Phelan did not qualify for a second run.
In the men's race held Jan. 6, no Canadians finished. Julien Cousineau, Trevor Philp, Phil Brown and Erik Read all failed to complete their first runs.
American skiers killed in Austrian avalanche
Two skiers on the U.S. Ski Team died in an avalanche in Soelden, Austria on Jan. 5.
Development-level skiers Ronnie Berlack, 20, and Bryce Astle, 19, were freeskiing at the resort with four others when the avalanche struck. The other athletes skied out of the slide.
Both Berlack and Astle last competed in Nor-Am Cup action in Panorama last December, with Astle hitting the top-10 twice.
Berlack grew up in New Hampshire and was most recently a student-athlete at Burke Mountain Academy in Vermont. Astle hailed from Sandy, Utah.
"Ronnie and Bryce were both outstanding ski racers who were passionate about their sport — both on the race course and skiing the mountain," U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association President and CEO Tiger Shaw said in a release. "Our hearts go out to the Berlack and Astle families, as well as to their extended sport family. Both of them loved what they did and conveyed that to those around them."
Information on services is pending.
Nordic skiers shine in Prince George
A dozen local skiers took to the trails in northern B.C. to kick off 2015.
At the Teck BC Cup #1 race held in Prince George on Jan. 3 and 4, it was Mila Wittenberg's show, as she powered through to win both the midget girls' sprint and distance races.
In the same division, Linnea Uunila was third in her age group in the sprint and fourth in the distance race and Sakura Kawano was eighth in her age group in the sprint and did not finish the distance race.
As for the midget boys, Joe Davies won the distance race a day after he fell in the quarterfinals of the sprint race. He recovered to win the B final and finish seventh overall.
Meanwhile, with the juveniles, Benita Peiffer was tops in her age group in the girls' distance race after a fifth-place showing in the sprint.
As for the other local girls, Alisa Feuz, Kaede Kawano and Lauren McKay were seventh, eighth, and 10th in their respective age categories in the sprint. Kawano, Feuz and McKay were then eighth, ninth and 10th in their age groups in the distance race.
The lone juvenile boy, Mike Murdoch, ended up third in his age group in the boys' distance after a fifth in the sprint.
Three Australian visitors, spending the season in Whistler and training with local clubs as part of their summer break, also took part at the junior level.
In the distance race, Hugh Pollard and Max Lowman were both ninth in their age categories, while Emma Pollard was seventh. Emma Pollard was 10th in the sprints, while Hugh Pollard was ninth and Lowman 10th.
Nordic Toonie season kicks off Jan. 8
Whistler Nordics is setting the table for another season of Toonie races.
The first race of the season for local recreational skiers is slated for Thursday night (Jan. 8) at the Lost Lake Trails. Registration starts at 5:45 p.m. at the PassivHaus with the race kicking off at 6:15 p.m. Online registration is also available at whistlernordics.com for those interested in saving time on the night of the event.
Samurai Sushi has been confirmed as the sponsor of the season-opening race.
The fee is $2 for Whistler Nordics members, though the club is offering a Try-A-Toonie for non-members for $5.
All skiers require a trail pass, and a head lamp is recommended.