Canadians dominant on home soil in Val St. Come moguls
Val St. Come, CAN
- A trip back to home soil was just what the Canadian moguls team needed after getting shut out of the awards last week in Lake Placid, as the host squad took four out of a possible six spots on the podium in Val St. Come (CAN), with Justine Dufour-Lapointe leading a Canadian sweep of the ladies’ podium and Mikael Kingsbury taking the win and reclaiming the yellow World Cup leader’s bib for the men.
Mild temperatures in Val St. Come meant that the Alex Bilodeau moguls course got progressively tougher as the day went on, as each run through the soft snow carved deeper grooves around each bump. However, come big final time, the last six ladies and men were locked in and ready to put on a show for the big crowd in the heart of Quebec’s moguls country.
After being blanked off the podium in both previous events of the 2016/17 World Cup season, the typically strong Canadian ladies’ team came into Val St. Come desperately looking to right the ship. And, lead by Justine Dufour-Lapointe, with her teammate Andi Naude and sister Chloe Dufour-Lapointe coming in second and third, the Canadian ladies were able to do just that.
Justine skied stronger as the day went on; qualifying in third place, bumping World Cup leader Britteny Cox for top spot after final one, and then putting it down solid in the tough conditions of the big final to earn a score of 78.36 - just enough to edge her teammate Naude’s score of 78.10 for the win.
“Sometimes the toughest part is having to speak to everybody about ‘Oh, those two rough competitions you’ve had,” said Justine of her slow start to the season, “Yes, it was rough, and it creates some doubt, but on the other hand I learned a lot that I wanted to improve on, and today I think I showed those improvements. I stayed focused, I fought to the end, and I had fun. I skied for me, and I skied with my guts, and it felt right.”
For Naude, who now has four career podiums, it was a thrill to share the podium with her teammates.
“I really couldn’t be happier. It’s been a tough road for me so far this year. I know there were only two events before today, but to be able to stand on the podium here in Canada with my teammates is going to give me a huge boost heading into the rest of the season. I’m super excited.”
Kingsbury back on top of men's field
For Kingsbury, it was back to business as usual after a disappointing sixth place finish last week in Lake Placid that resulted in him losing the yellow World Cup leader’s bib to Dmitriy Reiherd (KAZ).
“I’m happy to be back doing my full run with the full degree of difficulty - with the double full and the 1080 (airs),” said Kingsbury about his performance on Saturday, “This was my plan and I stuck to it. In Lake Placid I got a bit excited with the speed and my run fell apart. Today still wasn’t my best skiing, but it’s good for me to still have something to work on, and just to get back to winning and do it at home is a great feeling.”
Not to be lost in the Canadian triumphs were the performances of Sacha Theocharis (FRA) and Walter Wallberg (SWE), second and third respectively and both claiming the first podiums of their careers, though both doing so at vastly different stages.
27-year-old Theocharis is a veteran of 54 World Cup competitions dating back to the 2010/11 season, and his best performance before Saturday was an eighth place last season in Deer Valley. On Saturday he found another level, picking his way smoothly through the soft Val St. Come course to score 82.20, edging Wallberg by just .01.
Wallberg, meanwhile, is in his first full World Cup season, and Saturday was just the fourth competition of his very young career. Coming off a fifth place result last weekend in Lake Placid, Wallberg looked mature far beyond his 16 years, topping the qualifications and then laying down two strong final runs with no signs of feeling any pressure.
“I’m really happy,” Wallberg said from the awards area, third-place trophy in hand, “I brought a lot of self-confidence from my last competition in Lake Placid and I wanted to really just focus on my run and not on the results today. It ended up really working well.”
From Val St. Come the FIS Freestyle moguls World Cup now moves to Calgary for the second Canadian competition of the 2016/17, returning to one of the longest-running and most historically significant venues on tour in Calgary, Alberta. Competition in Calgary gets underway next Saturday with qualifications beginning at 9:25 and finals set for 13:30 MST.
Hi-res photos (for editorial use, credit FIS/Buchholz)