Laffont and Kingsbury close out 2015/16 with wins in Moscow
Moscow, RUS - The 2015/16 moguls World Cup season came to an end on Saturday night in Moscow, Russia, with a large crowd on hand to watch Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) and Perrine Laffont (FRA) reign supreme in a competition held on a giant scaffolding venue constructed just outside of the Russian capital city’s centre.
While the FIS Freestyle World Cup has staged aerials competition in Moscow six times previously - including once earlier this season - Saturday’s Moscow city event was the first time that moguls competition has ever been held on such a set-up. And while the short course made for some lightning-fast times, a huge bottom air bump meant that there was no lack of entertainment despite the shorter competition run-time.
In ladies competition, 17-year-old Laffont stepped it up once again in what has been a hugely impressive season for the 2012/13 moguls Rookie of the Year, taking her second victory in as many weeks and finishing the season having only finished outside of the top-10 once.
“The competition today was really different and really fun,” Laffont said following the awards ceremony, “It was fun to compete here in Russia so near to the city. I couldn’t be happier. I got two podiums this season and they were both victories, so I’m really happy with how it went.”
Laffont defeated Andi Naude (CAN) in a closely-fought dual moguls big final, edging the Canadian by a score of 18-17. The podium was Naude’s second of the season, and her first ever in dual moguls.
“Today was an absolute blast,” said Naude, “I couldn’t have had more fun. We came in not knowing really what to expect from the scaffolding, but being here today has been really, really fun. The first couple runs were definitely the hardest, adjusting to it, because it’s a really fast course and you have to just trust you speed.”
Third place on the day went to Hedvig Wessel (NOR), for her first career podium in her 54th start and the first podium for a Norwegian moguls skier in nine years.
While they were both shut out of the podium, Canadian sisters Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe were nonetheless waged in a critical battle in Moscow, as the pair came into Saturday’s finale just nine points apart on the moguls World Cup leaderboard. By the end of the day, that margin had widened to 23 points, with Chloe finishing the day in seventh to Justine’s 12th-place result and taking the 2015/16 crystal globe.
“I feel like I reached the goal that I had at the beginning of the season and that was to be consistent throughout the year. That’s what you need to do to win the crystal globe and I am extremely proud of myself,” said Chloé. “I really gave it my all at every single competition this season and only missed the podium twice. I’m going to work even harder in the off-season to work on the little things, but I will also take the time to really appreciate this moment.”
Chloe, with 494 points, and Justine, with 471, were joined on the World Cup moguls overall podium by Saturday’s winner Laffont, who finished the season 80 points back of the leader, at 414.
On the men’s side, Kingsbury finished the season in much the same way that he started it, besting Ben Cavet (FRA) in a dual moguls final to take his fifth victory of the campaign and his seventh podium in eight events, while also claiming his fifth-straight moguls and Freestyle overall crystal globes.
“It was my goal this season to win a fifth crystal globe. It was a pretty great season and I only missed the podium once,” said Kingsbury. “I’m proud that I won more than half the World Cups this season. It was a shorter season for us, so I really made a point to be consistent every competition. I’m heading in the right direction with my skiing and I’m excited for the World Championships next year and the Olympic Games the year after that.”
No other man has won five-straight Freestyle overall globes, and with his 2015/16 achievement Kingsbury has moved into a tie with France’s Eric Laboureix for most all-time overall titles.
22-year-old Cavet finished off the best season of his career in impressive fashion, pushing Kingsbury to the limit in the final though ultimately coming up short. Still, he was happy with his result and excited about the possibilities opened up by the Moscow event.
“This format is really new for us. Skiing on scaffolding is a new experience, and I think it’s great because it gets mogul skiing visible to a wider public. The more different competitions we have the happier I am, really.”
Cavet’s performance moved into a tie with Matt Graham (AUS) for second overall in the 2015/16 moguls World Cup, though Graham - who did not compete in Moscow due to university obligations - would retain the silver medal based on a tiebreaker.
Third place in Moscow went to Philippe Marquis, as the top three men in the field finished out the season in the top three spots on the results list.
Other awards handed out on Saturday included the moguls Nations Cup, which went to the ever-powerful Canadian team once again, and the ladies’ and men’s Rookie of the Year trophies, which went to 19-year-olds Jaelin Kauf (USA) and Ikuma Hiroshima (Japan), respectively.
Kauf scored the first podium of her career in just her third World Cup event on home soil in Deer Valley in February, while consistently laying down some of the fastest runs in the ladies’ field in every event she entered. Hiroshima, meanwhile, had his first career podium at the season-opener in Ruka (FIN).