Canada’s moguls maestro
In the period between his elite debut in 2010 and 2018, Canadian moguls specialist Mikael Kingsbury set a host of records in the World Cup, winning the overall title seven times in a row and scoring 49 wins and 73 podium finishes in 90 starts. He then capped it all by fulfilling his dream of winning Olympic gold at PyeongChang 2018
A LOCAL SPECIALITYLearning to ski on the slopes of Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains seems to be a fool-proof formula for Olympic success. The Canadian province is home to a long line of freestyle champions, among them Jean-Luc Brassard, Olympic mogul champion at Lillehammer 1994; Alexandre Bilodeau, two-time Olympic champion at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014; and the Dufour-Lapointe sisters, Justine and Chloe, who scored a one-two at Sochi 2014.
Hailing from Deux-Montagnes, Kingsbury has proved a more than worthy addition to that list. A serial record breaker on the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup circuit, he won moguls silver at Sochi 2014 and then went one better in the event at PyeongChang 2018.
FAST LEARNERThe Quebec-born star showed his unshakeable belief in himself when he was nine, when he stuck a drawing of the Olympic rings on his bedroom ceiling and inscribed it with the words. “I’m going to win”.
When he burst onto the international scene nine years later, Kingsbury had that goal very much in his sights: “[My aim is] to win gold in Sochi in 2014,” he pledged. With his maiden moguls victory in Beida Lake (CHN) on 21 December 2010, he became the youngest ever winner of a World Cup event, the prelude to a series of remarkable results that would make him world No1.
ON TOP OF THE WORLDThe Canadian was 19 when he won his first moguls and overall World Cup titles in 2012. He repeated the feat the following season and in the process set a new record of 19 consecutive top-three finishes, including 13 wins, between 10 December 2011 and 23 February 2013.
“I can’t really explain my success,” he said. “I work hard at the gym and on my skis. Every time I enter a competition, my aim is to win it, and I really do enjoy what I do. I would imagine that it’s a combination of all these factors that enables me to get good results. I’m a perfectionist when I ski… and I’m able to fully focus on what I’m doing for long periods.”
BILODEAU’S SUCCESSORKingsbury’s sudden emergence motivated the 2010 Olympic champion Bilodeau to push himself further, with both men taking moguls to a whole new level during the 2013/14 season. With a perfect descent and some spellbinding acrobatics, it was Bilodeau who prevailed when the two squared off in the Olympic final in Sochi, retaining his Olympic title with a total of 26.31 points. Virtually flawless in the air, Kingsbury was less precise on the moguls and scored 24.71, good enough only for silver.
Announcing his retirement afterwards, Bilodeau said: “Canadian freestyle skiing has a big future. There are a lot of youngsters coming through and I’m delighted to share the podium with one of them. When I go, Mikael’s going to win every competition he enters.”
UNTOUCHABLEBilodeau has since been proved right. Extremely fast and accurate on the moguls, Kingsbury is also an artist in the air, with his perfectly executed Cork 1080 off-axis spin invariably giving him the edge over the competition. The Canadian followed up his first Olympic medal by continuing to dominate the World Cup scene, becoming the most successful freestyle skier of all time.
He followed up his 2012 World Cup double with six more moguls and overall titles in a row. The winner of nine events in 2014, seven in 2015, another seven in 2016, ten in 2017, and seven again in 2018, he racked up an unmatched total of 49 victories and 73 top-three finishes in 90 starts in that seven-season period.
He is also the only freestyle skier in history to have completed a moguls/dual moguls double at the same event: in Deer Valley (USA) in 2015 and again in Thaiwoo (CHN) two years later. That Chinese double formed part of a record run of seven consecutive victories on the circuit between January and February 2017, which also included a win in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic test event at Bokwang Phoenix Park.
“It’s great to… progress towards the Olympic Games,” he said after his win in the Republic of Korea. “It’s wonderful to be on top of the podium and I hope I’m there again next year.”
OLYMPIC CHAMPION AT LASTA surprise bronze medallist in the moguls at the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships in Sierra Nevada (ESP) in March 2017, when he was also eliminated in the last 16 of the dual moguls, Kingsbury quickly regained his very best form, winning six consecutive World Cup races.
His confidence restored, the Canadian resumed his quest for Olympic gold at PyeongChang 2018, topping the standings in qualification, held on the same day as the Opening Ceremony. Fourth in Final 1, he placed second in Final 2, and then saved the best till last in Final 3.
In a flawless descent, Kingsbury pulled out two huge jumps – the second of them a majestic D-Spin – to score 86.63 points and finish well clear of Australia’s Matt Graham in silver and Japan’s Daichi Hara in bronze.
“I’ve been dreaming of this since I was eight,” said the newly crowned Olympic champion. “I’ve achieved my dream and it’s the greatest day of my life. I’ve won lots of World Cup races in my career but to win this is something else. It’s one night every four years and I’ve proved I can do it. I’ll now be an Olympic champion for the rest of my life.”
Intent on defending his title at Beijing 2022, the all-conquering Kingsbury told Radio Canada how he stays motivated in a March 2018 interview: “I don’t necessarily think I’ve got things to prove. I’ve beaten all the records and in terms of statistics I’m the greatest of all time. I just want to prove things to myself. I feel I can carry on being the best, and when the day comes that people start saying that I’m not, I’ll want to go out there and prove them wrong.”