Cox and Graham win to make best-ever day for Australian moguls
Calgary, CAN - According to tradition, citizens of Australia typically recognize their country’s national day on January 26th, gathering in public places around the world to conspicuously and boisterously celebrate all the great things about the land Down Under. This year, however, the Australian moguls team decided to move things back a little bit, having their own Australia Day celebrations in Calgary’s Winsport Canada Olympic Park by way of Britteny Cox and Matt Graham taking the respective ladies’ and men’s World Cup moguls wins.
While the unseasonably warm temperatures arrived as expected, Saturday dawned much gloomier and windier than had been originally forecast, and the exposed top half of the Calgary moguls course was rocked by gust after gust throughout the day. Still, with a large crowd on hand and the course in pristine condition, the best moguls skiers in the world were able to step up and get it done.
For the ladies, this meant Ms. Cox was once again front and centre.
The World Cup leader since taking her first career victory at the season-opener in Ruka, Cox hasn’t looked back since, and on Saturday was able to take her third win in the season’s fourth competition with near-flawless skiing from start to finish.
Qualifying in first and then chalking up the best score in the semifinals, Cox dropped in last in the big final and calmly picked the tricky Calgary moguls course apart, nailing her top air 360, staying smooth through the roll-over section, and putting down a picture-perfect backflip on the second jump to earn herself a score of 82.11 to vault over second place Justine Dufour-Lapointe’s 80.02.
“I had such a fun day skiing today,” Cox said following the awards ceremony, “I’ve just been building and building, from my win in Ruka (FIN) through to Lake Placid (USA) and then here today, working on my process and having fun, and with that the results seem to come.”
Runner up Dufour-Lapointe put down a hard-charging run that itself could have been the winner save for a couple of small mistakes in the middle section. Justine was followed up on the podium by her older sister Chloe, making for the sixth-straight season with a podium in Calgary for Justine, and the fifth-straight for Chloe.
With her win Cox now has 345 points on the season, holding an 84 point advantage over Justine Dufour-Lapointe’s 261, as the Canadian was able to leapfrog Perrine Laffont (FRA) to take over second place.
Graham bests Kingsbury to break streak
Coming into Saturday’s Calgary event Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury had won six straight times at the former Olympic venue, with his only failure to capture victory here coming in 2009/10 at his first career World Cup event.
However, on Saturday that streak would come to an end, as Matt Graham shrugged off the pressure and capped the best-ever day for the Australian moguls team on the World Cup circuit with an impressive win.
After Kingsbury came out of qualifiers with the top score, Graham settled into a groove in the semifinals, earning the top score there while displaying the smooth technique that has seen him emerge as Kingsbury’s top contender over the past two seasons.
After Kingsbury put down a solid, if not flawless, run to take the lead in the big final, Graham was the only athlete left to challenge the great Canadian, and he rose to the occasion with two near-perfect airs and the fastest time of the round to earn a score of 85.34 and bump Kingsbury’s 83.90 down to second place.
“It was super loud up there with the wind and I couldn’t really hear the scores, which I usually like to listen to,” said Graham of his final run, “So, I didn’t know what (Kingsbury) did, but I just thought to myself, ‘Well, I better put a smoking run together,’ and I was able to do that. And to see my score come up with the number one, after my teammate Britt just won for the ladies, that was pretty awesome.”
“And it’s nice to knock Mik off that top step every now and then, prove that he’s human. He’s a good mate of mine and we push each other a lot.”
Third on the day went to Ben Cavet (FRA), who himself just narrowly missed besting Kingsbury with his score of 82.89.
With his runner-up on Saturday Kingsbury was able to maintain his hold of top spot on the men’s moguls leaderboard, though Graham was able to move into second place and close the gap somewhat, with 246 points to Kingsbury’s 320.
The FIS Freestyle moguls World Cup now moves to the legendary venue at Deer Valley (USA) for moguls and the 2016/17 season first dual moguls event, with single moguls set for February 2nd and duals slated to go on February 4th under the lights.
Hi-res photos (for editorial use, credit FIS/Buchholz)