Mikael Kingsbury of Deux Montagnes, Quebec retained his crown, and the FIS Freestyle leader’s yellow bib, as the 19-year-old won the World Cup dual mogul in France. His teammate, 17 year-old Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal, made it a two-medal night for Canada by taking home the silver.
On a course that only received snow in the last 48 hours, and with only an hour-and-a half of training for the athletes before the event, the Canadian teens proved that they have the grit to triumph in a grueling five-run dual mogul competition.
In men’s head-to-head action, Kingsbury qualified first to make it in to the round of 16. There, he bested teammate Marc-Antoine Gagnon of Terrebonne, Que. and Denis Dolgodvorov of Russia before meeting up with Sho Kashima of the U.S. in the semi-finals.
The dual with Kashima was a nail-biter as the American beat Kingsbury across the line, but the Canadian’s textbook turns and legendary air advanced him to the finals in an 18 to 17 decision by the judges.
In the final round, Kingsbury beat hometown favorite, France’s Anthony Benna, to take the gold in a 20 to 15 decision.
“It was a perfect day with the snow, it was icy yesterday, but it snowed all day today so it was great for the finals. In my training my skiing was pretty and I was focused on not making mistakes, I just made training like competition and took it one dual at a time,” said Kingsbury who added, “In the final I felt like the Boston Bruins when they come to Montreal! All the French were cheering for Anthony Benna, but I like not being the favorite, so it was fun for me.”
Kashima defeated his countryman Patrick Deneen for the bronze medal in the small final.
Philippe Marquis (Quebec City, Que.), Eddie Hicks (Langley, B.C.) and Gagnon all advanced to finals, but were knocked out in the first round. They finished 13th, 14th and 16th, respectively.
Cedric Rochon of St. Sauveur, Que. finished just out of the finals in 17th position and Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh (Quebec City) was 22nd in the field of 47 men. Team veteran Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau was ill and did not compete.
On the women’s side, the day belonged to Dufour-Lapointe who, unfortunately, had to dual her sister Chloé in the first round. She then defeated Arisa Murato of Japan and Heather McPhie of the U.S. before meeting up with Olympic Champion Hannah Kearney in the final.
Dufour-Lapointe gave Kearney a run for her money, but ultimately experience won out with Kearney taking the gold in a 21 to 14 decision.
“ I think Meribel is a lucky place for me, I won my first world cup medal here last year. Duals is my favorite event and I have good scores with duals. I think it’s because I like to fight so it’s in my vibe.,” said Dufour-Lapointe.
She added, “I was really happy that I pushed all I could and I didn’t crash. I’m really proud that I could push it like that and stay in control. I can’t wait to come back home and ski at Gabriel, I think I’ll be even more confident there.”
McPhie took third place against Ekaterina Stolyarova of Russia.
Chloé Dufour-Lapointe was the only other Canadian woman to make today’s finals. She finished 12th.
Chelsea Henitiuk (Spruce Grove, Alta.) and Maxime Dufour-Lapointe finished just outside the finals in 17th and 18th positions, respectively.
World Cup Freestyle action resumes in the New Year, with the Canada Post Grand Prix at Ski Mont Gabriel on January 14 & 15.