Kearney and Kingsbury get back to business in Inawashiro dual moguls
INAWASHIRO, JPN – In an exciting return of dual moguls to the FIS Freestyle World Cup program, both Hannah Kearney (USA) and Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) got back to their winning ways on Sunday while two Japanese skiers thrilled the local crowd with podium performances.
Kearney was out to make amends after a disappointing singles moguls competition on Saturday that saw her register a rare DNF (Did not finish) result after crashing early in the finals. Back on top of her game, Kearney looked calm and focused as she battled her way to her first victory since early January - so focused that at one point she nearly skied over a competitor who crashed and got into Kearney's line an early heat.
The victory was enough to vault Kearney back on top of the moguls and World Cup overall leader board, as Saturday's winner and former yellow bib-wearer Justin Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) had a difficult day, finishing in ninth. With the win, Kearney now leads Dufour-Lapointe by 25 points with three events left in the season.
In second and third on the day were a pair of athletes who scored their first World Cup podiums on the tough Inawashiro course. Elena Muratova (RUS) and Junko Hoshino (JPN) were able to put down some impressive runs in the occasionally foggy and snowy conditions on the long, steep venue to earn their first pieces of World Cup hardware.
For Hoshino especially the result was a sweet one, coming as it did on the heels of a strong performance in Saturday's single moguls competition that saw her finish in sixth place. With another large, enthusiastic Japanese crowd on hand, Hoshino's result was the first of two that would help send the local fans home happy.
Sunday marked the first ladies' moguls competition of the season where at least one of the three Dufour-Lapointe sisters did not reach the podium. Maxime was the top finisher in fifth place, and her performance bumped her up to third on the moguls leader board, ahead of sister Chloe who did not compete over the weekend.
In the men's competition, Kingsbury simply skied the way he typically does on route to his fourth win of the 2013/14 season.
His biggest challenge came in the super final in his match-up with Sho Endo (JPN), who went eye-for-an-eye with the explosive Canadian in an excellent final match-up. Unfortunately for Endo, a small mistake near the bottom of his run was enough to hand the victory to Kingsbury, though his second place finish was still enough to cap an all-around excellent day for the host Japanese squad.
Like Kearney, Kingsbury found himself reunited with the yellow leader's bib on Sunday, as former leader Alex Bilodeau (CAN) finished a disappointing weekend with ninth place in duals competition. After six consecutive podiums to begin the season, Bilodeau was shut out in back-to-back competitions in Japan, and now trails Kingsbury by 41 points on the moguls leader board.
Third place went to Pascal-Olivier Gagne (CAN), for the third 'first-ever' World Cup podium of the day. After losing to Kingsbury in the semi-final, Gagne was able to regroup and take down his higher-ranked teammate Phillipe Marquis (CAN) in the small final.
After a little break, the moguls World Cup will get back at it with another weekend of back-to-back moguls and dual moguls action in Voss-Myrkdalen, Norway, on the 15th and 16th of March.
Full ladies' results can be found HERE
Full men's results can be found HERE
Video highlights from the Inawashiro dual moguls (and other events) can be found HERE
Ladies' World Cup standings can be found HERE
Men's World Cup standings can be found HERE