Kingsbury extends podium streak to 18

Canada’s National Freestyle Mogul Team dominated today’s 2013 Freestyle Ski Grand Prix presented by Volvo at Canada Olympic Park, taking three of the six podium places and racking up a host of milestones in the process.

Montreal sisters Justine and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe shared their first gold, silver podium on the FIS World Cup circuit. Their teammate Mikael Kingsbury earned his 13th career win and 25th World Cup medal, it was his 18th consecutive podium – the previous record was 13, held by Nano Pourtier of France in the 1981-82 season.

With her win, Justine not only moved significantly closer to her goal of competing in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games by securing one of two podiums required for Canada’s ‘Method A’ selection; but she also secured the FIS yellow bib as the current women’s mogul leader.

Skiing with a black eye after hitting her face with her knee in a crash during yesterday’s training event, the 18-year-old could hardly contain her excitement, “Oh gosh, it’s a lot of news, eh?,” she commented, noting all the milestones from today, “It’s amazing, today was a bit difficult for me, I came back from a crash yesterday so I was just focused on doing a perfect run. After I landed after all those runs and just understanding that I won a yellow bib for the first time, it’s amazing. And it’s even better to share it, not just with my teammate, but my sister. It’s beautiful.

“Actually it’s so much, I’m not really ready to talk about all of it right now,” Justine continued, “There’s so much to get used to, having my sister, having the yellow bib; winning in Canada in front of family and friends; and, sharing the yellow bib with Mikael, it’s a perfect day.”

Big sister, Chloé, couldn’t keep the grin off her face either, “I had so much fun today the course was like really nice. I loved it because it was a challenge … and it was so important to do it in Canada with our fans. It’s so fun to be with my sister on the podium because we are one and two – it’s pretty awesome.”

Eliza Outtrim of the US was the women’s bronze medalist with a score of 21.42.

Rookie Andi Naude of Penticton, B.C. made it to the six-woman super finals for the first time in her career. The seventeen-year-old fell on her final run and landed in sixth overall, but was thrilled nonetheless. She said, “It’s unfortunate I fell pretty hard but that’s ok — it was so fun and such a good experience, I’m so happy right now.”

In addition to the three Canadian women in the super finals, three more made it to the 16-woman final round. The third Dufour-Lapointe sister, Maxime, was 10th at 20.01; Christel Hamel of St. Sauveur, Que. was 11th at 19.60 for her first visit to World Cup finals; and Spruce Grove, Alta’s Chelsea Henitiuk was 12th at 17.24.

Myriam Leclerc of Beaconsfield, Que. finished 23rd in her inaugural World Cup event.

In the men’s field, Kinsbury’s top score of 24.00 just bested that of Russian Alexandr Smyshlyaev who scored 23.90. Sho Endo of Japan won the bronze medal at 22.68.

Kingsbury entered the super final in fifth position after a few uncharacteristic mistakes in his finals run.

“Going into the last run of the day I said to myself, ‘OK, this is my first time in a super final that I’m [ranked] low like that, so I’m just going to push and make the other guys behind me push too’,” said Kingsbury, who explained that he changed his bottom air from a cork 720 to a back flip for the super final run because he was having problems with the bottom jump and because he wanted to be faster to put pressure on the athletes coming behind him.
Asked whether he could sustain his podium run all the way to Sochi, the Deux-Montagnes, Que. native who only needs a finish in the top two-thirds of the field from either the Sochi test event next month or the World Championships in March to all but secure his 2014 Olympic spot, replied, “I think its been working for 18 World Cup medals, why not 18 again?”

Kingsbury maintains the yellow bib in the men’s field with a healthy lead in the FIS standings.

Olympic Champion Alex Bilodeau from Rosemère, Que. finished fourth today on the extremely difficult and icy course after a mistake in his middle section. He scored 18.78.

Clearly disappointed, Bilodeau said, “I tried to do my best today and it didn’t work. I skied quite well, did a little mistake, like a lot of people did … I think I am skiing well in training it’s just little mistakes in competition, but I mean there is still stuff to improve to be the best skier today.”

Canadian men who made today’s final round included Marc-Antoine Gagnon of Terrebonne, Que. in eighth at 21.80; Philippe Marquis of Quebec City in ninth at 21.80; Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh of L’Ancienne-Lorette, Que. was 10th at 21.50; and, Montreal’s PO Gagné was 15th at 20.20 after a brilliant qualification run landed him in fourth for the finals.

Hugo Blanchette of Ile-d’Orleans, Que. finished 29th in his World Cup debut. Cedric Rochon of St. Sauveur, Que. and Kerrian Chunlaud of Sainte-Foy, Que did not finish today after falling in the qualification round.

As Canadian athletes on the podium here today, Kingsbury and the Dufour-Lapointe sisters also each earned a $5,000 Sarah Burke Performance Award from Winsport Canada in honor of the halfpipe star who died last year following a training accident in Park City, Utah.

Chloé said, “It’s touching me so much to receive this award because Sarah was a great skier and every day I think about her when I ski because she touched my heart. In fact I think she touched every person on the Canadian team.”