Mikael Kingsbury has thoroughly dominated moguls skiing for the past five seasons with an ability to remain at the top of his game that's both a nod to his immense talent and knack for being able to avoid injury in a sport that's rife with them.
At the mention of injuries, the 23-year-old leaned over to knock on a wooden carving in the lobby of a Toronto office tower Thursday. He's also incredibly superstitious.
"I like all those kind of things, having little rituals," Kingsbury said.
The skier from Deux-Montagnes, Que., was in Toronto for a day of meetings fresh off another world-beating season. Kingsbury won crystal globes for both the overall moguls World Cup title and overall World Cup freestyle crown. Both championships marked a record-five in a row.
He's worn his lucky T-shirt for all five seasons. Kingsbury spotted the shirt at a shop in Portland. Black with white lettering, it reads: "It's good to be the king."
He first wore it at a World Cup in 2010 and won a silver medal.
"It was my first World Cup podium so I told myself, 'Yeah I should wear it again,' and I had other good results so it kind of became my lucky charm," he said.
The shirt has softened and greyed over the seasons of wearing and washing.
"I think it looks nice because it's getting old, a lot of experience. That shirt has 33 World Cup wins. That shirt never missed one," he said with a proud grin.
He also has lucky boxers — two pairs he rotates. He rattled off other superstitions. While drinking water pre-race, he swallows the first gulp and spits out the second. He always places his skis in the same spot before runs.
His rituals extend to his everyday activities, like driving. If he drives under a yellow light, he touches a hand to the ceiling. While going over train tracks, he stomps both feet. If he forgets, he has to stomp three times and happily demonstrated.
More than luck
"It's just little things," he said. "I don't ever want to lose [the T-shirt], but I don't want it to become the only reason I do well. I like all those kind of things, having little rituals, but if I forget to do it, it's not going to mess with me.
"I'm still going to be a great skier. I think it's a cool thing, but if I forget, it's not the end of the world."
Kingsbury's ability to stay healthy, however, is about much more than luck. He knows when to push hard in training, he said, and when to back off. And he's careful to keep his body at the right racing weight.
"And I have good trainers," he said. "My sport, I have to stay super light and be quick and powerful, so they train me the right way so I don't get too big and I just stay strong and that's a reason why I'm consistent too … knock on wood for sure.
"It's a dangerous sport but I'm intelligent. I make the right decisions and I'm surrounded by the right people too."