Canadian moguls skiers secured four of six World Cup podium spots today (Feb.23) in Inawashiro, Japan as American Bradley Wilson kept the North American trend going with a career high, second place result.
Canadians Mikael Kingsbury and Audrey Robichaud landed on the top of their fields after charging down the 30-degree course. Teammates Alex Bilodeau and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe both added to the Canadian coffers, earning bronze medals.
For Kingsbury, who clinched his 2014 Olympic nomination last week, it was the sixth win of this pre-Olympic season, in just eight events.
After finishing fourth in the first final today, the resilient 20-year-old rebounded to score 23.41 in the super-final for the win. Bradley Wilson of the US took the silver at 23.31 and reigning Olympic Champion Alex Bilodeau was third with a score of 22.65.
Kingsbury explained that a fresh dump of snow overnight made for a soft course in qualifications, but it quickly turned slippery after the weather became overcast for finals.
“I had a difficult time in the finals run, actually I didn’t ski the run I wanted to ski but I fought and made it into the super finals,” said Kingsbury. “It was very slick so you really had to control your speed, I learned from my finals run and managed to put it together for a clutch performance in the end, so I’m super stoked,” said the 20-year old who keeps his hold on the yellow leader’s bib.
Wilson’s previous career best finish was a third-place result in Deer Valley last month.
“I went out there today and was doing my best to ski conservatively and really focus on my turns. I was able to keep my skiing under control and keep my turns clean and tight,” said Wilson who had the highest turns score of the finals. “If you’re a mogul skier you’ve heard of Inawashiro. Everyone knows this course, it’s so difficult! The most difficult course on tour so to be able to pull out a second place here is pretty sweet.”
On the women’s side, it was the second time Robichaud stood at the top the podium in the land of the rising sun, as she won the dual mogul competition event in Naeba last year.
Today, the Quebec City native dominated the field, winning the finals round and then going on to score 20.62 to edge the Czech Republic’s Nikola Sudova, at 20.33, in the super final. Montreal, Que.’s Chloé Dufour-Lapointe bested her little sister Justine for the bronze, scoring 19.25 to Justine’s 17.81.
But the win was a surprise for Robichaud, “I really didn’t do my best run for the super final and I was actually pretty disappointed in myself, especially after I had such a great run in the finals; so when I got to the bottom and saw the scores I thought they had made a mistake, but I guess all the other girls made some mistakes too — the course was pretty difficult and tricky on the top section so it was really easy to make mistakes,” she explained, adding that, not surprisingly, Japan is her favorite stop on the tour, “The people, the food, the culture, I love it here. Everyone is so nice and respectful, it’s so much fun to be here.”
While not quite in the medals, the fourth place finish for Justine was good enough to earn back the yellow leaders bib, after briefly losing it to Hannah Kearney of the US last week at the Sochi test event. Kearney finished 23rd today.
“I was not very happy with my super finals run because I went out of my line after the first air, so I was actually really happy to get back the yellow bib. It was a cool surprise and I’m going to keep working hard so I can keep it,” said Justine.
Eliza Outtrim was the top U.S. woman landing in seventh.
Freestyle World Cup action continues tomorrow with a dual mogul event here and an Aerial event in the Ukraine.
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