Mikael Kingsbury begins title defence with new trick

Mikael Kingsbury has put in hundreds of runs this summer perfecting the cork 1440 as he prepares to defend his crown as the leader atop the World Cup moguls and overall freestyle skiing standings.

Record-setting skier gearing up for run at 1st Olympic gold

With a new trick in tow, Mikael Kingsbury is looking to add more titles to his resume ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Ivan Sekretarev/The Associated Press)

Good luck to anyone trying to catch Mikael Kingsbury on the moguls course this season.

He's put in hundreds of runs this summer perfecting the cork 1440, a partial back flip with quadruple twist, as he prepares to defend his crown as the leader atop the World Cup moguls and overall freestyle skiing standings. He's the only skier in the world who has landed the trick on a moguls course and he plans on using it as a sort of weapon of last resort in his already considerable arsenal of tricks.

"It's nice to have it in my back pocket," Kingsbury said on Thursday. "I know that if I do it I'll be the only one. We'll see. It depends on the circumstances. If at some point I know I need it to beat someone's run I know I have it ready.

"My percentage of landings with that jump are incredible."

Although he says he can nail the cork 1440 more than 95 per cent of the time, he'll stick to more reliable tricks this season. Still, he loves the feeling of the trick and has even shown it off on social media.

"The 1440, the adrenalin, the feeling in the air, to spin four twists in under two seconds is just crazy," said Kingsbury. "You can feel a bit of G-force just from your body spinning so fast. The feeling of landing big tricks like that is just amazing."

Kingsbury, from Deux-Montagnes, Que., is already the best moguls skier in the history of the sport. He broke the record for most career World Cup titles last season and at just 24 years old he's ready to add to his total of 33. He also won the 2016 dual moguls world championship after taking silver in the traditional event. The 2016-17 season is especially important to him because it sets up the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where Kingsbury hopes to win his first Olympic gold.

"I love what I do and the guys behind me are making me push," said Kingsbury. "I want to keep that gap for as long as I can. I still want to be the leader headed into the 2018 Olympic Games. The goal is to be the favourite there.

"I'm in the position I want to be in. We can say a lot of things about how you have more pressure when you're the leader, but that's the position everyone wants to be in."

Summer snow sessions

Kingsbury and his teammates on the Canadian freestyle team have, in his words, gone wherever there's snow this off-season.

They spent May and June in Whistler, B.C., trained in Australia for three weeks at the end of August and in early September, then did a training camp in Switzerland before returning home. They're off to Finland next for more training before the World Cup tour officially kicks off in Ruka, Finland, on Dec. 10.

Montreal's Dufour-Lapointe sisters are also hoping to build on solid seasons. Chloe and Justine finished No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the women's moguls standings, while Maxime was eighth.

Chloe, 24, is putting less of an emphasis on big tricks and instead focusing on subtle details that casual fans might not notice but they're nuances important for winning and her longevity as a skier.

"Visually it's going to be smoother from the judges' perspective, but for people who don't watch moguls often it won't seem that different," she said. "I know that I'm going to be more balanced, I'll be faster.

"Some small details can make a big difference in the gap between your competition and you."

Kingsbury and the Dufour-Lapointe sisters are also preparing for an exceptionally long skiing season that stretches from December to March and includes more stops in Asia than previous years. To compensate for the gruelling schedule all four skiers have been focusing on their mental and physical health.

"My strategy is to really take care of myself," said Justine Dufour-Lapointe. "I feel like saying I'm older is weird because I'm 22, but I feel older on the circuit, but it's going to be my seventh year on the World Cup tour.

"I need to take care of myself more by stretching more, drinking more water and getting electrolytes and shakes and getting healthy food in my system more."