Dufour-Lapointe and Wilson conquer Inawashiro moguls
INAWASHIRO, JPN – Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) was able to carry the momentum from her gold medal-winning performance at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games to claim victory in the first event back on the World Cup tour in Inawashiro, Japan.
In men's competition it was Bradley Wilson (USA) recording the second win of his career and the first since he scored victory last year in dual moguls competition, also at Inawashiro. His performance stole some of the thunder from a Canadian moguls squad that placed six athletes in the men's top 10.
Justine's performance lead the way for the fourth double-podium performance of the season for the three members of the Dufour-Lapointe collective, as her older sister Maxime placed third to take the second podium of the season and of her career.
Heather McPhie (USA) placed second, setting down one of the toughest jumps of the day to score her first podium of the season. Her clean D-spin on the second jump had the highest degree of difficulty of any of the jumps performed by the ladies in the super final.
Saturday's event continued a streak in which at least one of the three Dufour-Lapointe sisters has been on the podium in every event of the 2013/14 season, and it moved Maxime up to fourth on the moguls World Cup leader board.
Justine's victory on a day when Hannah Kearney (USA) was an uncharacteristic DNF saw the 19-year-old Canadian jump over Kearney into first place on both the moguls and World Cup overall leader boards.
After Saturday, there are just four moguls events left on the World Cup calendar.
Kearney was the third skier out of the gate on Saturday but crashed attempting her signature 360 mute grab on the first jump of the tough Inawashiro course. One of the steepest and longest on the entire World Cup tour, competition at Inawashiro often sees a new mix of names at the top of the results list, and Saturday was no exception.
For Wilson, it was another strong performance at Inawashiro that gave him his first-ever World Cup win in single moguls. While Wilson's jump combination had the lowest degree of difficulty of any of the six skiers in the super final, solid turn scores combined with the fastest time of the day for any skier gave him a final score of 24.30 – just enough to edge the 24.25 earned by second place finisher Marc-Antoine Gagnon (CAN).
Gagnon's performance was the best on a huge day for the Canadian men's team, as they finished with six skiers in the top 10 on Saturday at Inawashiro. Just behind Gagnon was Olympic Games silver medallist Mikael Kingsbury, while Sochi 2014 gold medallist Alex Bilodeau was just off the podium in fourth and Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh was the fourth Canadian in the super final, finishing sixth.
Bilodeau long ago announced his retirement at the end of the 2013/14 season. While his victory at Sochi 2014 was the achievement of his top goal, taking home moguls and freestyle overall Crystal Globes at the end of the year would be the icing on the cake for perhaps the greatest men's moguls career of all time, and Bilodeau seems keen to pull the feat off.
However, Kingsbury's third place edges him a little closer to Bilodeau on the moguls and World Cup overall leader boards, and sets up what should be a thrilling showdown between the two skiers through the homestretch of the 2013/14 season.
Competition from Inawashiro continues on Sunday with the first dual moguls event of the year.
Full ladies' results can be found HERE
Full men's results can be found HERE
Ladies' and men's video highlight can be found HERE
Ladies' qualification start list for Sunday's dual moguls event can be found HERE
Men's qualification start list for Sunday's dual moguls event can be found HERE