Mikaël Kingsbury, Canada’s latest maestro of the moguls
Canadian freestyle skier Mikaël Kingsbury will head to Sochi hoping to emulate the achievements of compatriots Jean-Luc Brassard (1994) and Alexandre Bilodeau (2010) and win gold. Still just 21, the Quebec-born Olympic debutant has been in dominant form over the past two seasons and will arrive at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park as the pre-event favourite.
Learning to ski on the slopes of Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains appears to be a foolproof method of guaranteeing an Olympic gold in the moguls. Following the triumphs of Jean-Luc Brassard, Olympic champion at Lillehammer 1994, and Alexandre Bilodeau, who emerged victorious at Vancouver 2010, Mikaël Kingsbury is the latest Quebec-born freestyle skier to make a name for himself.
From the moment he burst onto the international scene aged 18 during the 2010-2011 season, Kingsbury had Olympic triumph in his sights: “[My aim is] to win gold in Sochi in 2014!” he pledged. His maiden moguls victory in Beida Lake (CHN) on 21 December 2010 saw him become the youngest ever winner of an FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup event. It was the prelude to a series of remarkable results.
“I don’t know how to explain my success. 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 a lot. I would imagine that it’s a combination of all these factors that enables me to get good results,” muses the young Canadian. “I’m a perfectionist when I ski. I always want to be perfect, and I’m able to fully focus on what I’m doing for long periods.”
It did not take him long to reach the top of the world rankings, capturing the overall and moguls World Cup titles in 2011-2012 (at 19 years of age) and 2012-2013, and setting a new record by claiming a place on the podium 19 times in row (including 13 wins) between 10 December 2011 and 23 February 2013.
Success in Sochi beckons again
The location of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games augurs well for Kingsbury. Each time he has competed at Sochi’s Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, he has come away with a victory, first in the European Cup (5 March 2012) and then in the World Cup (15 February 2013). The latter win ensured his selection for Canada’s Olympic team, which prompted a delighted response from the youngster: “I’ve just realised one of my dreams. I’m very happy with the way I dealt with the run. I’ll be ready next year. I’ll take to the slopes with a lot of confidence.”
Three weeks later, on 5 March 2013, he was crowned world champion in Voss (NOR). He also collected a silver medal in the dual moguls event, following an enthralling battle with Alexandre Bilodeau in the final. “I get on really well with Alexandre. I’ve known him for a long time. He’s been a role model for me. We’re only rivals on the slopes; we’re actually good friends.”
Capable of wonderful mid-air moves, his perfectly executed “Cork 1080” off-axis spin often gives him the edge over the competition. He is also extremely fast and accurate on the moguls, and appears to be hitting top form just in time for Sochi as underlined by his triumph in the first World Cup event of the 2013-2014 season in Ruka (FIN) on 14 December, following up with another win at Deer Valley (USA) a month later.
“I’m very excited! It’ll be my first Games. I’ve watched them on TV since I was a little boy. It’s just an amazing feeling; I’m going to achieve my greatest dream. By the time I get to the start gate, I’ll be ready. And I’ll perform the best run possible in order to win the gold.”