Kingsbury wins gold, clinches early Olympic nomination

Mikael Kingsbury and Philippe Marquis put a Canadian stamp on the 2014 Olympic mogul course at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park here by winning gold and bronze in an FIS mogul World Cup today.

The Canadians scored 25.93 and 24.68, respectively, sandwiching American Patrick Deneen, at 24.96, on the podium.

“I am excited,” said Kingsbury who has won five of the seven mogul World Cups so far this season and has a total of 29 podiums on the circuit, including two World Championships medals. “I think this is the biggest thing I have won so far in my life so it’s crazy. I have never won World Championships or the Olympics, and this is the Olympic test event.”

“I won last year [at a Europa Cup event here] too and I remember I said before last year, ‘I want to win these three events, the Europa Cup, the World Cup Test event and the Olympics so I can seal the deal,’ And now I’ve won two, so just the biggest one to come.”

The Deux-Montagnes, Que. native’s impressive winning run on the slushy mogul course also earned him provisional early nomination to the Canadian Olympic team through the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association’s ‘Method A’ nomination process.

“It is pretty crazy, I’ve won everything for the qualifications for Olympics. I don’t know what to say – it’s like a dream coming true. Finally I have the Olympic dream coming to me, it’s a dream that started when I was sitting on my couch with my dad and my brother watching the Salt Lake City Olympics 11 years ago, this is where it starts.”

With the win, Kingsbury also keeps a firm grip on the yellow bib as the mogul points leader.

Marquis’ bronze medal was the best showing of the season for the Quebec City native. He said the warm weather and lack of snow that forced the cancellation of today’s snowboard parallel slalom event here reminded him of the Vancouver 2010 course at Cypress Mountain where he was a forerunner.

“We knew the Sochi course was going to be like this,” he said, adding, “Actually this course put me in great mental shape. I came here with a good vision and I skied my best. I like the course I like the snow, even if it’s difficult.

“I’m really happy because this was one of the biggest events of the season and I had my best result. I think I had a great week.”

Marquis also made a prediction for the team saying, “I think it just a matter of time before we sweep. Everyone’s getting so good.”

Three other Canadian men advanced to the final round of 16. Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh of Quebec City was ninth; Marc-Antoine Gagnon of Terrebonne, Que. was 13th; and, Alex Bilodeau was 14th after an unfortunate fall on his second jump.

Bilodeau, the 2010 Olympic champion said, “I landed just perfect but I guess I was the first man to go in that line and because it was so soft I went deep, my ski dug into the snow and I couldn’t do anything. … but it happens, it’s nothing you can control and with the slush here it could have happened to anyone.”

Cedric Rochon of St. Sauveur, Que. did not qualify for finals and finished 32nd and PO Gagne of Montreal did not finish after gaining too much speed in the middle section and pulling out of the course.

On the women’s side, Audrey Robichaud was the lone Canadian to make it to the six-woman super final round. She landed in fifth position with a score of 22.89 after finishing third in the first final round.

“I am a little bummed about the super final because if it didn’t happen I’d have been third. But overall it was good and a good learning experience. I was excited to be in my first super final and I tried a little too hard and I was a little too stiff and I got a little sloppy. It wasn’t my greatest run but it still felt pretty good,” said Robichaud who comes from Quebec City.

The women’s podium went to Americans Hannah Kearney and Eliza Outtrim who took gold and silver at 24.74 and 23.89, respectively; and, Aiko Uemura of Japan in third at 23.72.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe finished just outside the super final round, in seventh position. The Montreal-native had to relinquish the yellow bib that she had held on to for the past three competitions. She chalked today up to a learning experience.

“I skied really great from the top then in the middle section I was feeling really comfortable and on the second jump, I opened my leg, I don’t know why. It’s a mistake, and I think it’s good that it happened today and not at the Olympics. Now every mistake I need to know why I did it and make sure I don’t repeat it when it counts — at the Olympic Games,” said Dufour-Lapointe, adding, “For sure I’m going to fight to get the [yellow bib] back.”

Dufour-Lapointe’s older sister Chloe and Andi Naude of Penticton also made the first final round, finishing ninth and 13th, respectively.

Canadian women who did not advance to finals were Maxime Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal in 19th and Chelsea Henitiuk of Spruce Grove, Alta. in 22nd.