Mikaël Kingsbury denied Olympic moguls gold, but earns Canada's 2nd medal in Beijing
Sweden's Walter Wallberg upsets defending champion in 6-man super final
Canada's Mikaël Kingsbury has won an Olympic medal, but was unable to defend his men's moguls title, collecting silver on Saturday at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.
Kingsbury racked up 82.18 points in the six-man super final at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou, trailing Walter Wallberg of Sweden, who scored 83.23.
"I'm very proud," Kingsbury told CBC Sports. "This is my third Olympic medal in three Olympic Games. Our sport is only focused on performance on-demand … so I'm proud of the way I dealt with the pressure. We train four years for a one-day [final].
"I was able to put down my best run in super final and tried to put the pressure on Walter, but he answered very well. [I'm] proud of him."
With his 2014 silver from Sochi, Russia, Kingsbury is the first male freestyle skier to win three Olympic medals.
The 29-year-old was attempting to become the second men's moguls skier to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals after fellow Canadian Alex Bilodeau achieved the feat in 2010 and 2014.
Kingsbury arrived at these Games in peak form with four victories this season and fresh off a silver-medal performance in his final pre-Olympic event in Deer Valley, Utah.
WATCH | Kingsbury denied Olympic gold by Wallberg:
"I can't wait to go home and see my family and friends and go celebrate," said the reigning world champion from Deux-Montagnes, Que. "It's [been] a lot of sacrifices in the past [few] months to be here [at the Olympics] and to be healthy."
'It's super cold here'
Japan's Ikuma Horishima, the Canadian's friend and rival, earned the bronze medal on Saturday with 81.48 points. The 2017 world champion skied four times on the day, having advanced to the three-run final from the second qualification round.
Horishima, who has three World Cup wins this season, trails Kingsbury by 12 points in the overall standings.
Kingsbury told CBC Sports it wasn't easy to compete in a minus-13 C wind chill on Saturday.
"It's super cold here and our sport gets pretty hard when it's cold for the [100 per cent artificial] snow [in China] and trying to move your muscles fast," said the overwhelming pre-race favourite.
In a recent interview with the Globe and Mail, Kingsbury said he hoped for cold weather and difficult race conditions at the Olympics "because these are the conditions where I can shine a bit more."
WATCH | Kingsbury analyzes his Beijing 2022 performance:
In 120 World Cup starts, Kingsbury has 71 victories, 101 podiums and is in pursuit of a 10th consecutive gold Crystal Globe and 19th of his career as overall season winner.
Wallberg accumulated points in the super final for his speed over the smooth and technical skiing style of Kingsbury, affectionately referred to as the "King of Moguls." The Swede also led a 1-2-3 finish with Kingsbury and Horishima in Saturday's 12-man final, recording 80.33 points to the Canadian's 79.59.
The 21-year-old returned to World Cup action just before Christmas from a two-year absence with a knee injury and has delivered four top-10 finishes to sit third in the standings. But Saturday was Wallberg's first major win on the senior circuit.
"We've been fighting all season, been trying to get that first place for so long now," Wallberg, coming off three knee surgeries in two years, told reporters. "So it was pretty good timing now.
"Mik has always been an idol of mine since I started skiing moguls. I remember asking him how he's tuning his skis and tips in the moguls. Always been looking up to him."
WATCH | Kingsbury has insatiable appetite for winning:
Canada's Dumais eliminated in 2nd qualifying round
Kingsbury said losing the tactical advantage of going last in the super final didn't change his strategy too much, but he knew he had to go faster if he was going to beat the speedy Swede.
Australia's Matt Graham and Daichi Hara of Japan, the 2018 Olympic silver and bronze medallists in Pyeongchang, South Korea, were held off the podium in China.
Graham, who didn't finish his run in Thursday's opening qualification round, was 19th in the second qualifier earlier Saturday but only 10 advanced to the final. Hara, who was among the top 10 to move directly to the three-round final, was knocked out in the 12-man showdown.
Quebec City's Laurent Dumais was eliminated in the second qualification round after scoring 71.39 for 26th overall in his Olympic debut. The 25-year-old was sixth at last year's world championship.
Speed skater Isabelle Weidemann earned the first Canadian medal of Beijing 2022, crossing the finish line in three minutes 58.64 seconds for silver in the women's 3,000 metres on Saturday.
The Ottawa native is the first Canadian woman to reach the podium in long track since Vancouver 2010, when Kristina Groves took bronze in the same event.
Justine Dufour-Lapointe goes for gold
On Sunday at 6:30 a.m. ET, Montreal's Justine Dufour-Lapointe continues her quest for a second gold medal and third podium in as many Olympic appearances in women's moguls. Kari Traa of Norway won bronze in 1998 (Nagano, Japan), gold in 2002 (Salt Lake City) and silver in 2006 (Turin, Italy).
The 27-year-old Dufour-Lapointe, who stood atop the podium in 2014 and won silver four years ago, secured the 10th and last automatic qualifying spot for the three-round finals with 71.45 points in Thursday's qualification round.
Her older sister, Chloé, will try to join her in the final when she competes for 10 available spots in Round 2 of qualifying at 5 a.m. ET. The 30-year-old narrowly missed advancing directly to the final, placing 11th with 70.31 points while becoming the first Canadian woman to compete in freestyle skiing at four Winter Games.
Chloé is looking to improve upon a 17th-place finish in Pyeongchang after winning silver behind Justine in Sochi.
"It's time to put all these last years of work into action," she said in an Instagram post. "It is lighthearted, and with this inner strength that I look forward to my day tomorrow. It will be a wonderful day and I will give everything until the last second! I know many of you will be cheering us on from back home. It's time to shine!"
Sofiane Gagnon of Whistler, B.C., will also compete in Sunday's qualification after finishing 14th in the opening round. The 22-year-old has two top-10 World Cup finishes this season.
With files from The Canadian Press and Associated Press