There seems to be nothing that can stop Mikaël Kingsbury right now on his path to greatness. At 22 years of age, Kingsbury picked up his 27th career World Cup victory by winning in Tazawako, Japan today.
The win is his sixth in a row and ties him for the consecutive victory record that he already co-holds with American Jeremy Bloom.
The victory also puts the native of Deux-Montagnes, QC, just one win away from tying the all-time record of 28 held by France’s Edgar Grospiron.
“I wasn’t as confident going into this event as I usually am based on the training I had yesterday,” said Kingsbury, who scored 88.17 in the super final. “It wasn’t the easiest course to compete on, but I felt my confidence go up after every run. This is a new mountain for us. We’ve never held an event here so we really needed to get to know the hill. It was a fun course though. It was just difficult with the amount of snow that fell and how warm it is here. I’m happy I was able to get the best out of myself when it counted the most.”
Kingsbury was Canada’s lone representative in the top-six super final. Finishing on the podium with him were American Jeremy Cota (86.33) and Russia’s Alexandr Smyshlyaev (81.61).
The win also guarantees the Crystal Globe title for Kingsbury with two World Cup events still to go. The overall mogul FIS championship will be awarded to Kingsbury for the fourth consecutive year.
“I have Grospiron’s record in the back of my head and I feel like it motivates me,” added Kingsbury. “I really just want to go out and enjoy myself because that’s when I feel like I ski at my best. That’s my plan, to go out and have fun. The motivation is already there to get that record. Winning the Crystal Globe is always a special moment too. It feels great to know that I did my job and guaranteed the title with two World Cups still to go.”
Audrey Robichaud also made history of her own today as the first female Canadian mogul skier to start 100 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cups. Robichaud’s day became a little more special after finishing third overall with a score of 77.41.
The podium marked the seventh of her career and the fourth in Japan.
“The day turned out great even with the weather conditions not being ideal,” said Robichaud. “I had the fact that it was my 100th World Cup start in the back of my head, but I really tried to treat it like any other event. I’ve had great success here in Japan in the past. Clearly it a special place for me to compete here. I’m thrilled with what I’ve been able to accomplish. It was really fun to be in the final with a teammate too and see how well she did.”
Robichaud was joined in the women’s super final by teammate Alex Anne-Gagnon who finished a career-best sixth place.
“I was pretty surprised to see myself in second place overall after qualifiers with someone like Hannah Kearney,” said Gagnon, who was competing in only her fifth World Cup. “I think my style suite this course well and I felt good during training. I had a lot of confidence entering the day. I’m going to keep working on my training and continue focusing on becoming a better skier. Days like today will motivate me even more.”
American Hannah Kearney came away with the title with a score of 79.12 and Japan’s Junko Hoshin (78.04) finished second.
The qualifiers had a couple of surprises on the women’s side. For the first time Alex-Anne Gagnon led the pack for the Canadians and finished second overall with a score of 76.65. Following her in third place was Maxime Dufour-Lapointe (74.29).
In total six Canadians qualified for the top-16 small final round including Audrey Robichaud (7th – 71.67), Andi Naude (9th – 69.87), Chloé Dufour-Lapointe (11th – 68.31) and Christel Hamel (15th – 66.42). In a surprise, Justine Dufour-Lapointe finished last among her teammates, in 22nd place overall, with a score of 61.25.
“Justine had a really great training session, but I think she had a tough time with the snow here on race day,” said Head Coach Michel Hamelin. “Her qualification run was going well until she got to this one specific bump and it made her change the line she was skiing in. It was unfortunate and she is hard on herself because she always wants to be great. We will definitely focus on the dual moguls event tomorrow and work on getting it right.”
A total of three Canadian men made it out of the qualification round and into the top-16 small final. Mikaël Kingsbury led the way finishing 2nd with score of 81.63 and right behind him in third with a score of 78.54 was Philippe Marquis. Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh was the last Canadian to make it through in 14th place with a score of 74.47.
Finishing just outside the top-16 was Marc-Antoine Gagnon in 17th place (73.68). Kerrian Chunlaud finished 20th overall (72.98) and Luke Ulsifer came in 40th place with a score of 47.43.
The mogul skiers return to the hill on March 1 for a dual moguls event. A full schedule can be accessed here.
Tazawako World Cup Standings
Mikaël Kingsbury (Deux-Montagnes, QC) – 1st
Philippe Marquis (Quebec City, QC) – 7th
Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh (Quebec City, QC) – 12th
Marc-Antoine Gagnon (Terrebonne, QC) – 17th
Kerrian Chunlaud (Ste-Foy, QC) – 20th
Luke Ulsifer (Calgary, AB) – 40th
Audrey Robichaud (Quebec City, QC) – 3rd
Alex-Anne Gagnon (Terrebonne, QC) – 6th
Chloé Dufour-Lapointe (Montreal, QC) – 7th
Andi Naude (Penticton, BC) – 11th
Maxime Dufour-Lapointe (Montreal, QC) – 12th
Christel Hamel (Montreal,QC) – 13th
Justine Dufour-Lapointe (Montreal, QC) – 22nd
Photo: Joe Fitzgerald/FIS
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