Mikael Kingsbury has won almost everything there is to win in men’s moguls. The prize he’s missing is the biggest, and the chance to win it is on the near horizon.
The 21-year-old from Deux-Montagnes, Que., is the reigning world champion and has won the World Cup overall title in moguls the last two years. Kingsbury is the heavy favourite to win Olympic gold in Sochi, Russia, next month.
His chief rival for gold is Canadian teammate Alex Bilodeau, who happens to be the defending Olympic champion.
Kingsbury added to his expanding coffers of hardware Saturday by winning a World Cup in Calgary. Kingsbury and Bilodeau were 1-2 in the final ahead of Patrick Deneen of the U.S. in third at Canada Olympic Park.
Montreal’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe edged American Hannah Kearney for gold. Justine’s sister, Chloe, was third ahead of Andi Naude of Penticton, B.C., who finished fourth.
Kingsbury extended his winning streak at the Calgary stop on the World Cup to four straight years.
“Calgary is the best World Cup for me all over the world so far,” Kingsbury declared. “I feel like home everywhere in Canada. For sure I can’t wait to ski in Quebec, but this year the course was awesome.
“I felt very confident today. That’s the biggest point. I felt very good and in very good shape. It’s looking good for Sochi.”
The Canadian freestyle team earned seven out of a possible 12 medals in Calgary and placed another four athletes in the top five.
The host country swept the men’s halfpipe medals Friday with Justin Dorey of Vernon, B.C., Calgary’s Noah Bowman and Matt Margetts of Penticton finishing first to third respectively. Freestyle halfpipe will make its Olympic debut in Sochi.
The freestyle and short-track speedskating teams are expected to be the drivers of Canada’s medal haul in Sochi, where the country’s goal is to win the overall medal count.
Bilodeau, Kingsbury and Justine Dufour-Lapointe have already qualified for Canada’s Olympic team. Kingsbury leads the World Cup standings again with his second victory this season.
In moguls, a skiers’ results are determined by their time down the course and judges’ scores on their style and two jumps.
Kingsbury scored 86.50 points followed by Bilodeau with 84.76. The Canadians had higher degrees of difficulty on their air elements than Deneen, who posted the fastest run time and scored 78.16.
Bilodeau did not speak to reporters in Calgary after his performance, nor did the 26-year-old participate in a conference call scheduled for later in the day. Bilodeau looked unhappy after the race.
His coach Michel Hamelin confirmed that Bilodeau felt he deserved better scores from the judges, and also that Bilodeau was undergoing post-race treatment at the time of the conference call.
“Right now, he’s in treatment for a massage for his legs,” Hamelin said. “Today at the course, he was down about the result.
“He felt that when he skis right now, even if he does his best, he feels that he skis with a rock in his pocket.
“Right now, the gap (between Bilodeau and Kingsbury) is a bit too much from the judges. If we’re second with a little bit tighter score we’ll be fine with it. He was kind of upset about ‘why am I not closer to him?’
“We’re really above everyone, but those two guys should always be really tight on the score.”
Dufour-Lapointe won the women’s title in Calgary for the second straight year. With a score of 78.53, Dufour-Lapointe edged Kearney, who won Olympic gold in 2010 ahead of silver medallist Jennifer Heil of Canada.
“Today, the good thing is I went fast and did clean jumps and that’s how I win,” Dufour-Lapointe said. “To win a gold medal at home, it’s incredible.”
Kearney scored 77.63 points followed by Chloe Dufour-Lapointe with 74.83. A third Dufour-Lapointe sister, Maxime, qualified for the six-skier final and finished fifth.
“I’m so happy she made this super final for us,” Justine said. “I just wish we could be the three of us at the Olympic Games.”
Dufour-Lapointe and Kearney are tied atop the women’s World Cup standings after two events.
The moguls team has World Cup events in Deer Valley, Utah, Lake Placid, N.Y., and Val St. Come, Que., this month before heading to Russia.
Every Canadian medallist in Calgary receives a $5,000 bonus from WinSport, which operates Canada Olympic Park. WinSport established the Sarah Burke Performance Awards in memory of the freestyle skier who died in a training accident in January, 2012.