The king is back, and he’s wearing the yellow leader’s bib. Canadian Mikael Kingsbury won the inaugural FIS Freestyle Mogul World Cup of the season today.
“It feels pretty crazy to wear the yellow bib,” said Kingsbury, “It feels like a dream come true. It’s not just being on the World Cup podium, it’s wearing the bib of the number one on the World Cup. I’ve always dreamed of that and now it happened. I’m not going to give it up without a fight.”
The 19-year-old from Deux-Montagnes Quebec easily took the win in the new FIS mogul format today, with a final round score of 25.00. Sho Kashima of the US was second at 21.71 and France’s Anthony Benna took the bronze medal at 16.28.
It was a cold, windy and dark day at the Ruka ski resort, but that didn’t scare off Kingsbury who said he felt a little nervous before his qualification run, but added, “I knew what I had to do. I knew I needed to ski fast and I knew I didn’t need my biggest tricks to make finals.” Instead of pulling out his double back full and his cork 1080, Kingsbury downgraded to his reliable back full and cork 720 to win every run of the three-round competition.
It was the first time a scaled-back version of the new FIS Olympic format was used in competition. Instead of the previous format of one qualification run and then one final run, the top four finalists had a third ‘super final’ run, where their scores were rewound to zero, to determine who would earn the top spot.
“Because I was first in the first final heat, I got to ski last in the super final,” explained Kingsbury. “And, from hearing the scores of the other three guys, I knew they had all messed up a little so I didn’t have to push too hard, but I still went full speed on my last run, because for me that’s the easiest way to go.”
Canadian coach Marc-André Moreau said the new format is going to take some getting used to, “In the men’s super final, three of the four guys pushed too hard and had to do old-school tricks, like twister spreads, on the bottom jump. You could see that they’re not used to doing three competition runs in a row, so the level of skiing in the last run for the men and the women was definitely a little lower than we’re used to seeing.”