Canada's Alex Bilodeau wins World Cup moguls event
Heather McPhie of the United States takes women's race
Olympic moguls champion Alex Bilodeau built his season around peaking for this year's world freestyle ski championships in Are, Sweden.
In the wake of winning the dual moguls title and finishing second in moguls there, the 27-year-old from Rosemere, Que., followed up with a World Cup moguls victory Friday.
"My skiing was great, but I made a little mistake at the top," Bilodeau said from Are.
"I pressed on the gas for the rest of the run and really showed my best skiing after that. To finish with a pretty-much-perfect bottom-air, I kind of managed to come back into the game even with that little mistake."
Patrick Dineen of the U.S. was second. Bilodeau's teammate and current World Cup leader Mikael Kingsbury of Deux-Montagne, Que., was third.
Heather McPhie and Eliza Outtrim gave the U.S. a one-two finish in women's moguls. Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan was third. Canada's women were held off the podium with Montreal's Chloe Dufour-Lapointe in fourth and sister Justine in fifth.
Bilodeau's victory was his first on the World Cup circuit this season and broke up the domination of Kingsbury, who had won every moguls event so far this season as well as the world title.
Bilodeau was disappointed with his score and result, but not his performance, at last week's world championship in Voss, Norway, where he finished second to Kingsbury in moguls.
Dual moguls, where skiers race head-to-head down the course, isn't an Olympic event, but the judged discipline of moguls is.
"I didn't have the result in singles that I wanted, but I delivered my part of things," Bilodeau said. "I feel very good right now and with how I came out today and how I came out of worlds, even in the single event. I'm really confident with my skiing right now. I'm pretty consistent with it also."
The Canadian team races dual moguls Saturday in Are and another dual moguls race is scheduled for the World Cup finale next week in Spain.
Bilodeau took most of last season off from racing to concentrate on school and give his body a break. Kingsbury, 22, dominated in Bilodeau's absence on route to the overall World Cup title.
Kingsbury retains the yellow bib as this season's leader with 810 points. At 693, Bilodeau is putting some pressure on his teammate to defend the Crystal Globe that goes to the overall champ.
"My main objective at the beginning of the season wasn't the Crystal Globe," Bilodeau said. "It was worlds and I'm sticking with it. I can't say it's not an objective. It would be lying because I want to be the best skier out there every day. But I'm not looking at it.
"My guess would be that mathematically it's still possible, but knowing what Mik is consistent with, I think he's going to end up with it."
Bilodeau aims to defend his Olympic gold medal next year in Sochi, Russia. He, Kingsbury and Justine Dufour-Lapointe have met the criteria for early nomination to the Canadian Olympic team.
After his semi-hiatus last season, Bilodeau set out to re-establish himself as a gold-medal contender and he feels he's achieved that.
"At the beginning of the season, not having competed last year, I probably wouldn't have recovered that well after my mistake," he explained. "I think it's the confidence I have with my skiing that I've built through the season.
"That's what I wanted to accomplish this year. I want to continue on that towards the end of the season and we're almost there."
A wobble on the landing of his second air element cost Kingsbury the win Friday.
"I was doing some of my best stuff of the season, but just this small mistake cost me everything and I'm just bummed about that landing, especially since it was in the super final where it really counted," Kingsbury said. "But I'm happy and I have another podium and tomorrow I'm going to have a knife in my teeth and I'm going to ski fast."
With a top-five finish, Justine Dufour-Lapointe wrested the women's yellow bib away from American Hannah Kearney, who was 14th Friday.
"Today I skied well but I think I just didn't have enough sparkle and glitter," Dufour-Lapointe said.
Dufour-Lapointe has 555 points to Kearney's 531.
Philippe Marquis of Quebec City was seventh in men's moguls, Marc-Antoine Gagnon of Terrebonne, Que., finished 17th, Quebec City's Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh was 22nd and Eddie Hicks of Langley, B.C. was 30th in his return to racing following a shoulder injury. Cedric Rochon of St. Sauveur, Que., was 56th.
Another Dufour-Lapointe sister, Maxime, was seventh among the women. Andi Naude of Penticton, B.C., was 11th and Audrey Robichaud of Quebec City was 12th. Chelsea Henitiuk of Spruce Grove, Alta. was 18th.