Galysheva and Marquis lead the charge at Ruka dual moguls
RUKA – The 2014/15 moguls World Cup season opened in spectacular fashion on Saturday, with a wild and unpredictable dual moguls competition in Ruka, Finland.
Utilizing a format that saw skiers seeded according to their World Cup rankings from last season and placed in head-to-head competition from the outset of the event, the day in Ruka ended up with a final results list the likes of which hasn't been seen on the World Cup moguls tour in quite some time – especially on the men's side.
The ladies' competition did see some familiar names making it through to the semifinals, with 2013/14 crystal globe winner Hannah Kearney (USA) and reigning dual moguls world champion Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) both battling their way to the final four.
However, at the end of the day it was 22-year-old former junior world champion Yulia Galysheva (KAZ) standing on the top of the podium, after first defeating Kearney in the semifinal and then going on to bump off Dufour-Lapointe in the big final to claim the second World Cup victory of her career.
Galysheva skied solidly throughout the day, and was able to complete strong, confident runs in her semifinal and big final heats while first Kearney and then Dufour-Lapointe made minor mistakes that would end up costing them the heat. The victory was Galysheva's first since 2012, and bodes well for the young Kazakh skier, coming as it did via head-to-head matchups against two of the toughest moguls athletes in the world.
Audrey Robichaud (CAN), who earlier in the day knocked off her teammate and Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN), crashed out and lost to Kearney in the small final and was forced to settle for fourth.
With Olympic gold medallist and reigning dual moguls world champion Alex Bilodeau (CAN) now retired, veteran Patrick Deneen (USA) eliminated in his first heat, and reigning crystal globe winner Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) knocked out of contention in the 1/8 final, the men's competition from the quarterfinals onward looked unlike anything seen in the past four seasons. With none of the dominant forces in the picture, the door was wide open for whoever could step up and take advantage.
Philippe Marquis (CAN) was the one who stepped up for the Canadians in Kingsbury's absence, taking down exciting rookie Thomas Rowley (USA) in the semifinals before edging the explosive Sho Endo (JPN) in the big finals. The win was the second victory of Marquis' career and his first podium since the 2013 Olympic test event in Sochi, and his performance showed the Canadians may yet be able to fill the big shoes left by Bilodeau.
“It's been a while since I stepped up on the podium, but I've been skiing well over the last few years. I knew it was just a matter of time, a matter of getting more training and more consistency,” said Marquis following his win, “And now here I am, first World Cup of the year, and it's started awfully well.”
The small final was a wild affair, with Rowley crashing after his first jump and then Anthony Benna (FRA) skiing out of his line at least twice in the middle section while Rowley got back into his line and worked to catch up. Benna was able to get himself back together in enough time to cross the line ahead of Rowley, however, and was awarded the win and third place on the day for his efforts.
Though he missed the podium, Rowley's performance may have been the biggest story on the day, as the 20-year-old took fourth place in what was just his second ever World Cup appearance. Last year's junior world champion in single moguls and silver medallist in dual moguls, Rowley is showing signs he might be the future star the US team is looking for.
Full ladies results can be found HERE
Full men's results can be found HERE
Photos of the event can be found HERE (credit Ski Sport Finland/Jani Karppa)
Highlight videos can be viewed on our media player HERE