Cox and Kingsbury reign supreme in Deer Valley duals
Deer Valley Resort, USA - The 2017 Visa Freestyle International at Deer Valley Resort came to a close with an action-packed dual moguls competition on Saturday, where World Cup leaders Britt Cox (AUS) and Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) once again validated their claims to the top with impressive wins in front of a raucous crowd nearly 10,000 strong.
Cox has been riding high this season with three victories and four podiums in five events so far this season, including a third-place performance on Thursday night in the Deer Valley single moguls competition, but Saturday night in Deer Valley would be her first career dual moguls finals.
However, despite the pressure, the steep and deep Deer Valley course, and a lightning-fast run by her big finals match-up Andi Naude (CAN), Cox kept her final run as cool and as smooth as she has all season, linking her turns expertly and stomping her airs while beside her Naude unravelled in the second half of the course.
“It’s just been phenomenal,” Cox said of her experience in Deer Valley, “Just the whole way we’ve built up this season with my support team, my family - who are here today from Australia - and my teammates. I’ve been learning so much from them this season and to see Brodie get his first podium today is incredible.”
Despite a finals run that wasn’t as tidy as she would have liked, Naude can take solace in the fact that she was the top Canadian on a day when many of her compatriots struggled with the added speed of duals competition in the big Deer Valley moguls.
“It was such a great race,” said Naude, “Everyone was pushing it, and the course was really fun to ski. It was difficult, but it brought out the best in all of us.”
Third place went to Jaelin Kauf (USA), matching her career-best performance from last season in the same event.
In her small final heat 20-year-old Kauf found herself matched up against her 16-year-old World Cup rookie teammate Olivia Giaccio, and rather than show signs of feeling the pressure the two youngsters seemed to revel in the moment, putting down one of the most closely-fought, entertaining, and speedy battles of the night.
While Kauf would take the win and third place, Giaccio’s fourth-place finish in just her sixth World Cup event is one more reason to be excited for an up-and-coming US team that looks to be a force on the tour for years to come.
Kingsbury pulls off Deer Valley sweep for the second time, takes all-time podiums record
Over on the men’s side, Mikael Kingsbury did what no other skier has done before by pulling off the “Deer Valley Double” for a second time, sweeping both the single and dual moguls competitions just as he did in the 2014/15 iteration of the classic event.
Kingsbury clobbered his competition through his four duals on the way to the final, with a combined score of 122 - 18 through those rounds, before facing off against teammate Marc-Antoine Gagnon in the big finale.
In the big final Gagnon battled admirably to match Kingsbury’s speed, but come time for judging he simply couldn’t compete with Kingsbury’s brilliant technique, and the final scores came in 22-13 for Kingsbury.
“It feels amazing,” an exuberant Kingsbury said from the finish area, “Deer Valley is just like the Superbowl for us, and just to win the singles competition was amazing. But I was fired up today to do the back-to-back (wins) and…there’s no words to describe it. And then to be on the podium both times with one of my teammates…it’s just unbelievable.”
With the win, Kingsbury claimed his 58th career World Cup podium, knocking down one more record in a career that has become littered with them as he surpassed French legend Edgar Grospiron for the most men’s World Cup podiums of all time.
Third place on the day went to Brodie Summers (AUS) - his first career podium and just one more 2016/17 bright spot for an Australian team that has emerged as one of the best in the world this season. Summers beat Jimi Salonen (FIN) in a scorching small final that saw both athletes lay down impressive runs.
From Deer Valley the moguls World Cup now moves to Bokwang Phoenix Park in Korea for the Test Event ahead of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. Competition in Bokwang is slated to take place on February 11, with qualifications beginning 15:20 local time.
Photos(credit USSA/Steven Earl)