Canada's Mikael Kingsbury earns gold in freestyle moguls
Alex Bilodeau, Justine Dufour-Lapointe collect silver
Canadian Mikael Kingsbury opened the freestyle mogul season with a World Cup gold medal on Saturday in Ruka, Finland, while teammates Alex Bilodeau and Justine Dufour-Lapointe each collected silver.
Kingsbury, the defending World Cup champion from Deux-Montagnes, Que., faced off with reigning Olympic champion and teammate Bilodeau in the dual mogul finale.
"I knew there was a lot of pressure in my dual against Alex, I knew the media would talk quite a bit about this dual for a long time after it," said Kingsbury, who won the crystal globe last season while Bilodeau was on a hiatus.
"I tried to relax and have fun at the top of the course and even though Alex is my teammate I tried to treat him the same way I would any other competitor."
Bilodeau took a break from competing last season to build up his conditioning, spare some pounding on his knees and work on a university degree before starting his push toward the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
"It was a good comeback for me," said the Rosemere, Que., native. "I'm not extremely happy about my skiing, there's still room for improvement and I did a mistake in the middle section of my final run, but it was a good day."
Jeremy Cota of the U.S. took the bronze, edging Marc-Antoine Gagnon of Terrebonne, Que., out of the medals in fourth position.
Cedric Rochon from St. Sauveur, Que., was seventh followed by Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh of Quebec City.
Dufour-Lapointe lost her final dual race against American Heather McPhie of the U.S., while Aiko Uemura of Japan won the bronze.
The Montrealer collected eight World Cup medals last season and is hoping to build on that momentum.
"Actually, it was pretty cool today because it was the first time that I got the highest technical scores in the turns technique in the qualification round. I worked on that all summer, so I have already achieved one goal," said Dufour-Lapointe.
Justine's sisters Chloe and Maxime were ninth and 14th, respectively.
Rookie Andi Naude of Penticton, B.C. was fifth, while Audrey Robichaud of Quebec City was 16th.
"These athletes put in so much work and with virtually all of our team making finals it is vindication for all that hard work," said Canadian mogul coach Steve Omischl.