Moguls team ends dominant World Cup season
The moguls World Cup season ended over the weekend with two Canadians on the podium. But that’s only a small part of the overall success Canadian Freestyle Ski Association enjoyed in this discipline since December.
Following up on winning four of six Olympic medals in moguls at Sochi 2014, the 2014-15 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup season started timidly by Canadian standards. In mid-December at Ruka, Finland, the Canadian moguls team managed a win in men’s dual moguls through Philippe Marquis and a second place in the women’s contest via Chloé Dufour-Lapointe.
Enter Mikaël Kingsbury.
Being left off the podium in Ruka must not have sat very well with the three-time defending overall World Cup title holder, Kingsbury. For the next seven World Cup contests the 22-year old dominated his sport like only he can.
From Calgary through Tazawa, Japan, Kingsbury won seven straight moguls World Cup contests, breaking his own record for consecutive victories. The Olympic silver-medallist also tied the all-time moguls World Cup wins record of 28. Two of Kingsbury’s seven triumphs came in dual moguls, something FIS is seriously pursuing as a regular feature at more World Cup stops and potentially at the Olympic Games.
After winning the first of his two races in Deer Valley, Utah (where Kingsbury became the first skier this season to score points in the 90s), he allowed a look into the precision with which he approaches his craft. “The scores of the other competitors were high and that pushed me to not make any errors on my runs. I knew I needed to be fast. I was able to put it all together. I think it was one of my better performances in my career.” He admitted later that when the season started in Ruka he “wasn’t skiing well.” That sure got fixed fast. Kingsbury added a World Championship title in dual alongside a moguls silver to his stupendous season.
On the women’s side, Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe made the podium in four consecutive races after Ruka, winning in Deer Valley and Lake Placid, New York. She also won the World Championship title in moguls and silver in dual. Soon finding their way to the podium were Andi Naude and veteran Audrey Robichaud, flexing the full field of depth in women’s moguls at CFSA’s disposal.
Of winning the World Championship the youngest of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters said she was “in a zone.”
“To get the Olympic gold medal and now the World Championship gold medal is a dream come true. I’ve grown so much since (Olympics) and learned a lot. That experience helped me here.”
When the season ended in Megève, France on Sunday, Canada had four men in the World Cup top-10 overall standings. Undoubtedly at the top was Kingsbury, joined by Marquis (third) in the top three; Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh (who won a World Cup silver in Calgary) was sixth in the standings and Marc-Antoine Gagnon (bronze in Lake Placid) eighth. By comparison, the United States had three men in the top 10, only one higher than Gagnon.
The men’s top team highlight of the season may have been the clean sweep in dual moguls (feature photo) at the World Championships where Kingsbury, Marquis and Gagnon ruled the day.
Kingsbury has now won the Crystal Globe four straight seasons as the top overall men’s World Cup points getter. That title was preordained prior to the last race in France where he was kept off the podium.
“I knew I already had the Crystal Globe locked up before today,” Kingsbury said. “Winning seven (events) in a row was great accomplishment this season. All these records are always great motivation. They are never my main objective, but they help push me. It’s definitely one of the best seasons of my career.”
Next time Kingsbury wins a moguls World Cup race, the Canadian will have the all-time record – currently tied with French legend Edgar Grospiron – to himself.
On the women’s side no nation came close to matching Canadian prowess. Although American Hannah Kearney won her fifth consecutive World Cup title, the red and white dominates the standings thereafter. Dufour-Lapointe sisters Justine (second), Chloé (third) and Maxime (sixth) are all in the picture. As are Robichaud in fourth and Naude rounding out the World Cup overall top five.
With the list of attainments above, it comes as no surprise that these incredible individual results netted Canada the moguls Nations Cup. And thanks in large part to this team, Canada also secured the overall FIS Freestyle Ski Nations Cup that encompasses aerials, skicross, ski halfpipe and slopestyle. Other top freestyle skiers such as Marielle Thompson (skicross) and Mike Riddle (ski halfpipe) contributed to the cause.
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For those wanting a glimpse of Canada’s most dominant sports team, many for the moguls stars, including Kingsbury and the Dufour-Lapointe sisters, will be arriving in Montreal after their highly successful season on Tuesday, March 17 on flight AC 875 at 1:35 p.m. ET.