It was a weekend everyone was looking forward to on the FIS World Cup 2017/18 freestyle ski schedule. For the eighth consecutive year, Canadian moguls skiers converged on Ruka Ski Resort in Finland. Four Canadians had qualified for the six-skier final rounds: Audrey Robichaud and Andi Naude for the ladies’ team, Mikaël Kingsbury and Marc-Antoine Gagnon for the mens’. With an almost perfect day today, Audrey Robichaud stepped onto the second step of the podium – a first medal in two years for the team’s veteran. “For me it was a perfect day, I am really happy. I almost don’t believe it yet,” said Robichaud, virtually at a loss for words to describe her experience. “The course was there for me, I think they made it for me, the conditions were great, the moguls were perfect, just the way I like them with beautiful fresh snow. It was a really great course. Today I was in control, not too stressed. I was ready,” concluded the Quebec City athlete, who could not have hoped for a better start to the season.
The defending champion of the World Cup circuit and holder of six crystal globes, Mikael Kingsbury, took the limelight once again in Finland with his 43rd career victory and his sixth in Ruka with a score of 87.45. “I was super-happy because with each run I wasn’t coming in first so I had to pull out all the stops at the right time,” said Kingsbury, who saw strong competition from Dimitriy Reikherd (KAZ) in the final run. “I was happy to find myself second in the finals because I was really feeling inspired. It’s different when you ski last, because that can make you anxious. But today I went harder than usual, and it served me well.”
Other noteworthy performances today included those of Andi Naude and Marc-Antoine Gagnon, who finished fourth and fifth respectively in the competition. The Sochi Olympics gold medallist, Justine Dufour-Lapointe, narrowly missed qualifying for the final found and finished seventh at this first World Cup event of the season.
Kingsbury makes it eight
With this podium victory in Ruka, “record man” Mikael Kingsbury has added another notch to his belt – his eighth consecutive World Cup win. After finishing the 2016/17 season tying his own record of seven consecutive wins, Kingsbury has just written a new page in skiing history. “I didn’t even realize it! I did my interviews at the bottom of the course and that’s when I learned that this was my eighth consecutive victory with the end of last season and the start of this one. I wasn’t competing with that in mind,” said the 25-year-old skier, who seems to have chosen Ruka as his favourite place to set records. It was here, in December 2015, that he broke the record for the most World Cup victories, then held by Edgar Grospiron.
The previous season was also the second-best in the career of the Deux-Montagnes native, who garnered a total of 1,020 points with nine medals over 11 competitions. Those performances earned him sixth Crystal Globes – in moguls and in the general ranking of freestyle ski World Cups. Kingsbury is now tied with Hannah Kearney (USA) as the most decorated moguls skier and is just behind aerials athlete Connie Kissling (SUI) in the general rankings.
The Canadian moguls athletes now head to Thaiwoo, China, where they compete on December 21 and 22 in a double program of single moguls.
Results for Canadian athletes:
Men: Mikaël Kingsbury (1), Marc-Antoine Gagnon (5), Philippe Marquis (16), Kerrian Chunlaud (20), Laurent Dumais (22), Simon Lemieux (30)
Ladies: Audrey Robichaud (2), Andi Naude (4), Justine Dufour-Lapointe (7), Alex-Anne Gagnon (13), Chloé Dufour-Lapointe (18), Maxime Dufour-Lapointe (44)