Mikael Kingsbury wins dual moguls event in Japan
Montreal's Pascal-Olivier Gagne takes bronze
Canadian moguls skier Mikael Kingsbury says he always sets his sights on a podium finish.
And lately, he's been getting a lot of them.
After winning bronze at a World Cup event on Saturday, the reigning Olympic silver medallist capped off his weekend in Japan with gold in dual moguls on Sunday.
"Yesterday I wasn't disappointed, but I made an uncharacteristic mistake. Today I felt very good," Kingsbury said. "I really wanted to win and I focused on the stuff I was doing well. I didn't have my best training this morning so I had to refocus and managed to get the win."
I really wanted to win and I focused on the stuff I was doing well. I didn't have my best training this morning so I had to refocus and managed to get the win.- Mikael Kingsbury
Kingsbury, of Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., outperformed Japan's Sho Endo in his final run. Montreal's Pascal-Olivier Gagne took bronze for his first World Cup podium finish.
The 24-year-old Gagne, who was ousted by Kingsbury in the semifinal, said that simply cracking the semis was a huge step for him, but winning bronze and sharing his first podium with Kingsbury and Sho was even better.
"I was already assured of fourth place so it didn't even matter what happened after, I was just so happy to be there," he said. "I went to see Mik before the dual and took him in my arms because I knew it was my best result ever.
"To share the podium with him, he's the most consistent skier I've seen and Sho, he's one of the best right now, so to share the podium with both these guys really means a lot to me."
Gagne got off to a slow start this season, making only one final in his first six events.
While his Canadian teammates were winning medals in Sochi, Gagne had to go back to the NorAm circuit to earn a spot in this weekend's World Cup event in Japan. He placed seventh in singles and second in dual moguls at Apex Mountain Resort outside of Penticton, B.C. on Feb. 15 and 16, respectively.
Gagne says winning his first World Cup medal on the tough Japanese course made his victory even sweeter.
"To finally have my first podium ever, and to have it here in Inawashiro means a lot to me," he said. "It's one of the courses that's the most difficult in the world. It's the course I always looked up to when I was young watching my idols. It's really a fight every time to ski here so I'm really happy I made my first podium here."
Quebec City's Philippe Marquis was fourth, Montreal's Marc-Antoine Gagnon placed fifth after being knocked out in the quarter-finals by Kingsbury, and two-time Olympic gold medallist Alex Bilodeau of Rosemere, Que., was ninth.
In dual moguls, two skiers race down a course against each other, with the top score awarded to the athlete who performs the best tricks in the quickest time.
Kingsbury admitted that having to ski against a fellow Canadian isn't exactly ideal.
"For sure I don't want to face them in duals because it's not fun to have to go up against your teammate," he said. "But when we're in the gate, it's like they're from another country. I'm not going to ski differently because they're my friend. We push even harder almost when we are going against our own teammates, but we had a lot of fun today."
On the women's side, Hannah Kearney of the United States won gold, followed by Elena Muratova of Russia and Japan's Junko Hoshino.
Montreal's Maxime Dufour-Lapointe, who won bronze in the women's singles event Saturday, placed fifth. Her sister and reigning Olympic gold medallist Justine Dufour-Lapointe, finished ninth after taking first place on Saturday.