Deer Valley starts in style with Schild and Kingsbury victories
Deer Valley Resort, USA - The opening event of the three-night Deer Valley Visa Freestyle International competition weekend kicked things off in celebratory fashion on Thursday, with US young gun Morgan Schild taking the second World Cup win of her career on home soil and Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) tying French legend Edgar Grospiron for most World Cup podiums with his own win in the Deer Valley moguls competition.
After two days of training under perfect sunny skies on Deer Valley’s Champion mogul run, Thursday dawned cloudy and a bit snowy, and come time for the start of ladies finals a persistent low cloud that had settled over the course’s top section became cause for delay.
However, after the stop-and-start ladies’ qualifier the temperature dropped, the clouds melted off, and the rest of the Deer Valley opener got off without a hitch in front the typically electric crowd gathered at venue’s base.
Top qualifier for the ladies was World Cup leader Britteny Cox (AUS), who appeared in the competition’s early stages to be on her way to her fourth victory in five events this season. However, come time for the semi-final Schild, inspired by the huge home crowd, took it to another level and didn’t look back.
Schild topped the semi-final and then in the big final simply dominated, with her slightly slower time offset easily by her superior jump package and control through Deer Valley’s steep and deep middle section. With her D-spin 720 being the best ladies’ air of the night and her top turning scores, Schild earned the win with one of the highest ladies' scores of the 2016/7 season - 81.27.
The win was an emotional one for Schild, who last topped the podium back in March 2015 in Japan, before a massive knee injury forced her our of competition for nearly two years.
“I looked back to my strengths of being tough in the big moguls," said Schild on regaining her winning form, ”People can struggle with that, and it makes me feel more confident to get to those places in the course that a lot of girls don’t go, which is usually filled with a lot of soft snow. To be able to just commit and go as fast as I can into the bottom air, that’s really what went well for me today. I feel like my old self. It’s amazing.”
Second place went to Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN), as the World Cup second-overall was able to put down a charging run on the course where last season she won both the moguls and dual moguls events. Third place went to Cox, with the Australian able to hold on to the yellow World Cup leader’s bib with her fourth podium of the season. Cox now has 405 points to Dufour-Lapoint's 341.
“Deer Valley is known as the Superbowl of freestyle skiing,” Cox beamed following awards, “So to get on the podium here, with my whole family here to watch me, is so special and I’m so happy.”
On the men’s side it was all Kingsbury, all night, as the man who may go down as the greatest moguls man in history skied like he was on a mission. Making up for a second-place performance on home soil last weekend in Calgary, Kingsbury lead from start to finish in Deer Valley for his third win of the season.
Still just 24 years old, Kingsbury now has 36 career victories and 57 podiums, putting him three wins away from surpassing Norwegian acro skier Rune Kristiansen for the most men’s victories in FIS Freestyle World Cup history and tying him with Edgar Grospiron for the most men's career moguls podiums.
“I feel the heat from the other guys, but I’m still trying to lead the train,” Kingsbury said from the finish area after his win, “But it’s fun like that. Those guys pushed me hard and it wasn’t easy tonight but I managed to stay consistent and I’m happy with my skiing.”
Kingsbury was able to extend his World Cup lead to 124 points over Matt Graham (AUS), who finished fourth on the evening - 420 to 296.
Second place on Thursday night went to Ben Cavet (FRA), who continues a hugely impressive 2016/17 with his fourth podium in five events. Third on the day went to Kingsbury’s teammate Philippe Marquis, for his first podium of the season.
Friday night in Deer Valley sees the focus switch over to the White Owl run for World Cup aerials competition, before it’s back to Champion for the Deer Valley grand finale - the first dial moguls competition of the 2016/17 FIS Freestyle World Cup season.