Mikael Kingsbury seemingly can’t be stopped. The 20-year old won his first World Cup of the season here today and kept a firm grip on the yellow bib as the FIS points leader for men’s moguls,
It was the 17th consecutive medal for Kingsbury, who scored a personal-best 27.05 on the challenging course. Americans Parick Deneen and Dylan Walczyk took the silver and bronze with respective scores of 25.71 and 23.57.
“I’m super stoked, it’s awesome,” said Kingsbury with a huge grin.
He qualified first for the super finals, which meant he got to ski last in the six-man round, “I like to go last because I can see everybody before me and I know what I have to do. I like being in the role of being the guy to beat, and today I was there. Because I was watching and there were pretty high scores, I knew I had to do a pretty good run and I think I did it perfect with no mistakes.
“It shows I’m working in the right direction. For sure there are still a lot of things to improve, but for today I managed well mentally.”
The win was extra sweet for Kingsbury, as the event was one of five targeted competitions where a trip to the podium can help earn Canadian athletes eligibility for early nomination to the Olympic team for 2014.
“It’s my first Olympic qualification event and I started with a win. Every time there’s going to be a qualification World Cup I’m going to do my best to qualify and hopefully I’ll get a ticket to the Games after this season,” said Kingsbury.
Despite the victory for Kingsbury, it was a bittersweet day for Canada on the challenging course, as none of the other four Canadians who made it super finals managed to make it into the medals.
“I need to adjust a few things for next week in Calgary,” said the Rosemère, Que. native.
For Montreal’s Pascal-Olivier Gagné his sixth place finish at 14.41 was a confidence booster. It was Gagné’s first time in the super finals and although he lost control and had to pull out of the course before the second air, he was thrilled with his accomplishment.
“I was feeling super good to make it to super finals. There were 66 guys in the competition so to make it was awesome. I knew I had nothing to lose but I pushed a little too much and caught an edge. Anyway, it just means so much to my confidence to be in the top six. Coming into Calgary I know I can attack and perform there,” said Gagné.
Marc-Antoine Gagnon from Terrebonne, Que. was seventh in the finals round. Cedric Rochon of St. Sauveur finished just outside the finals in 13th. Quebec City’s Phil Marquis fell and did not score.
In women’s action, Canadian sisters Chloé and Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal both struggled after qualifying for super finals. Chloé landed just off the podium, in fourth position, with a score of 16.63 and Justine was sixth with no score.
Olympic Champion Hannah Kearney of the US was golden on home turf after an injury sidelined her from the first two events of the season. She scored 23.53 to lead the women’s field. Nicola Sudova of the Czech Republic was second at 22.36 and Britney Cox of Australia won the bronze with a score of 21.62.
Chloé Dufour-Lapointe explained, “My run was going well when I got a bit backseat in the middle section, so I stopped to get back into control. It’s part of the game, and it was good warmup for our home event next week in Calgary.”
Her little sister, Justine, who was on the podium at the first two events of the season, was also sanguine about her result, “For the first five minutes I was a bit sad, I wanted to do much better here. But now I know I just have to fix the problem and not let it happen again.”
So, what was the problem for the 18-year-old? “I think I just lost some momentum between the finals and the super finals and maybe it cost me. Next time I’ll talk to my coaches and then they’ll help put me back on focus.”
Both Dufour-Lapointes said they are very excited to compete in front on a hometown crowd in Calgary next week.
Maxime Dufour-Lapointe was 8th in finals and Quebec City’s Audrey Robichaud was 10th. Andi Naude of Penticton, B.C. and Christel Hamel of St. Sauveur were 14th and 18th, respectively, in the qualifications round.
World Cup action continues in Lake Placid with back-to-back aerial events tomorrow and Saturday. Then the mogul team moves to Calgary for 2013 Freestyle Ski Moguls Grand Prix Presented by Volvo on January 26 at Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park. The event is free to the public. More information, including media accreditation information, is available at: http://freestyleski.com/wp/worldcup/canada-olympic-park/