2014/15 FIS Freestyle World Cup season concludes Sunday with Megeve dual moguls
MEGEVE, FRA – The 2014/15 FIS Freestyle World Cup season concludes this Sunday in beautiful Megeve, France, with two of the greatest who have ever skied the bumps looking to put exclamation marks on impressive seasons and, in one case, looking to put a final stamp on an wonderful career.
There's not much left in the way of drama in either the ladies' or men's quest for the 2014/15 moguls crystal globes, with Hannah Kearney (USA) and Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) having already locked down the titles once again.
In Kearney's case this will be her fifth-straight title while for Kingsbury it will be the fourth globe in his six seasons on the World Cup tour and, on top of this, both of these phenomenal athletes are on track to once again claim their respective Freestyle overall crystal globes – for both Kearney and Kingsbury their fourth career overall titles.
However, while the season results are essentially in the bag – at least when it comes to the two at the top – the dramatic storylines running their way towards the Megeve moguls finals are deep and compelling.
We'll start with Kingsbury, who, at just 22 years of age, two weeks ago in Tazawako, Japan, set the record for consecutive men's moguls wins with seven straight, while in the process tying Edgar Grospiron's (FRA) record for most career moguls World Cup wins.
With another win this weekend in Megeve Kingsbury can further extend his record while also becoming the winningest men's moguls skier of all time, and doing it all at a stage in his career when most athletes are just entering their prime.
And then there's Hannah Kearney.
The great US champion announced her pending retirement at the start of the 2014/15 season, meaning Sunday's event will be the last time we get to see one of the greatest moguls skiers of all time in World Cup competition.
Ahead of Sunday's competition, Kearney's career reads like a laundry list of what is possible in World Cup moguls competition: 116 career World Cup starts, 70 World Cup podiums, 45 World Cup victories, 8 crystal globes, eight World Championships medals, three World Championship titles, one bronze Olympic medal, and one gold Olympic medal.
With two more globes impending come Sunday, and that final competition in which Kearney has a chance to take her 46th victory and tie compatriot Donna Weinbrecht for the most moguls World Cup wins for a lady, the Megeve dual moguls becomes compulsory for any fan of freestyle skiing.
Further down the rankings list there are stories worth watching, as well. On the ladies' side, sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) are locked in a battle for second place on the leader board, with only 28 points separating them, while their 19-year-old teammate Andi Naude looks to continue a career year by jumping into the top five with the Chloe, Justine, and Audrey Robichaud to make four-out-of-five for Canada.
For the men, Philippe Marquis (CAN) and Alexandr Smyshlyaev (RUS) are separated by only 11 points in their battle for second in the rankings, followed by Matt Graham (AUS), who has quietly put together the best moguls season for an Australian skier since Dale Begg-Smith claimed the crystal globe in 2009/10. Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh (CAN) rounds out the top five, though there are several skiers within striking distance and capable of knocking him out of that spot.
Moguls action in Megeve gets going early on Sunday with pre-qualification scheduled for 08:50CET, followed by dual moguls finals beginning at 11:00. Following competition, awards, and the presentation of the globes, another phenomenal FIS Freestyle World Cup season will be in the history books.