Ladies' moguls World Cup preview
The 2015/16 FIS Freestyle moguls World Cup season gets underway on 12 December 2015 with dual moguls competition from Ruka, Finland – the opening venue for the moguls World Cup for the sixth consecutive season. This season the moguls World Cup will continue its tradition of visiting some of the most well-know and iconic ski areas in the world, including former Olympic host venues in Lake Placid (USA), Calgary (CAN), and Deer Valley (USA), with combination single and dual-moguls weekends lined up for many venues. As well, there will be one new stop on the tour this season, with the moguls World Cup finals slated to be held as a night time, city event in Moscow, Russia.
1 – Hannah Kearney (USA - 686pts)
2 – Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN - 501pts)
3 – Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (CAN - 493pts)
(Full list HERE)
Kreischberg 2015 Freestyle World Ski Championships
Gold – Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN)
Silver – Hannah Kearney (USA)
Bronze – Britney Cox (AUS)
Gold – Hannah Kearney (USA)
Silver – Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN)
Bronze – Yulia Galysheva (KAZ)
Rookie of the Year – Morgan Schild (USA)
One of the biggest stories of the year last season was the retirement of the USA's Hannah Kearney. The inarguable queen of moguls since at least 2009/10 and a world champion (for the first time) all the way back in 2005, Kearney's list of achievements – two Olympic medals including Vancouver 2010 gold, eight world championships medals including three golds, six moguls crystal globes, four Freestyle World Cup overall crystal globes, a tie for the most ladies' moguls World Cup wins ever – puts her very much in the conversation for greatest moguls skier of all time. Her absence on the World Cup tour in 2015/16 creates a huge power void, and one of the most interesting parts of the season will be watching to see who steps up to take her place.
Having said that, it seems certain that whoever that person is, it's likely that they're going to be Canadian, and also very likely that that person will hold the surname Dufour-Lapointe.
Behind Kearney, Canadians occupied the next five places on the World Cup standings, with Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe sitting in second and third and their sister Maxime occupying the sixth spot overall. Between Chloe and Maxime, Audrey Robichaud in fourth and Andi Naude in fifth completed the sea of red and white at the top of the 2014/15 standings.
Justine is the odds-on favourite to again lead the Canadian squad and in doing so take her first career crystal globe in 2015/16. Second-overall to Kearney for the last four seasons running, the 21-year-old has never finished below fourth on the final standings, and that was in her first World Cup season, when she was just 16. Last season, Justine took gold at the Kreischberg 2015 Freestyle World Ski Championships in single moguls and silver in duals while racking up two wins and five podiums on the season.
Most famously, however, she and Chloe are remembered for their gold-silver finish at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games and the iconic images of the two of them holding hands on the podium in shared triumph. Now, with Olympic and world championships titles already under her belt, the crystal globe is the next major award Justine will be hunting for.
Chloe, for her part, has finished third overall the past two season and in the top-10 for seven seasons straight, and has a world championships gold from the Voss 2013 dual moguls event to her credit. While Justine may be the favourite, Chloe has the skills to take her younger sister to the edge of her capabilities.
It's unclear where challengers for the Canadians are going to come from in 2015/16. Switzerland's Deborah Scanzio had the best season of her career last year, finishing in seventh overall, but she will be 29 in December, and it seems unlikely that her upward trend can continue through the upcoming season.
Just behind Scanzio was an even older competitor. Nikola Sudova (CZE) is one of the tour's great veterans, logging 15 consistent seasons and peaking as high as second overall in 2007/08. However, it seems even less likely than Scanzio that Sudova can threaten the Canadian reign.
As far as a youth movement goes, 17-year-old French skier Perrine Laffont, sixth at Kreischberg in dual moguls, seems certain to become one of the best skiers on tour - just not likely in 2015/16.
There is some hope from the US squad, with KC Oakley registering her first career victory last season and finishing ninth overall, and Keaton McCargo becoming a regular fixture in the top-10. However, the US team suffered a big blow when 18-year-old Morgan Schild injured her knee in spring training to such an extent that she will not participate on the World Cup tour this season. Schild won her first World Cup event in just her sixth career start last season at Tazawako (JPN), quickly earning attention as a potential heir apparent to Hannah Kearney, and the loss of a season of her development was a difficult pill to swallow for the USA.
For now, from season-opener in Ruka to season-ender in Moscow and the seven competitions in between, it looks like it's going to be the Canadian ladies front, centre, and on top of the board, with everyone else playing catch-up in 2015/16.