Laffont and Kingsbury triumph in Thaiwoo moguls
Thaiwoo, CHN - The first of the weekend’s back-to-back competitions at the moguls World Cup finals took to the newest venue on the tour in Thawoo (CHN) for single moguls competition on Saturday, where Perrine Laffont (FRA) and Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) were able to step up and claim victories on the tricky Thaiwoo course.
As has been the case all week, brilliantly sunny skies and a perfectly prepared course greeted the athletes on Saturday morning, with organizers and Mother Nature working in tandem to create ideal conditions for the season-ending competitions.
Ladies’ competition was tight throughout the day, with Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) topping qualifications and the first round of finals before finding herself in the super final lined up against the likes of Laffont, moguls crystal globe winner Britt Cox (AUS), and last weekend’s Tazawako (JPN) dual moguls winner Jaelin Kauf (USA).
As she was slated to drop last, Dufour-Lapointe watched as Laffont put down the best run of the day for any of the ladies, skiing the tight moguls on the Thaiwoo sun-warmed course as smoothly as anybody had. Laffont’s score of 80.01 was the first to break the 80-point barrier for the ladies all day, and the gauntlet was thrown down for Dufour-Lapointe.
Unfortunately for the Canadian, Laffont’s performance would prove to be just out of reach on the day. While Dufour-Lapointe also skied cleanly, in the end she come up just short, finishing .75 points back of Laffont with a score of 79.26.
“I’m so happy to be on the podium today, especially to take first place,” said Laffont of her first win in 2016/17, “It wasn’t an easy course this morning with the ice, but this afternoon it was much better with the slushy snow. I just tried to enjoy my journey, and the win happened!”
Third place on Saturday went to Britt Cox (AUS), the 22-year-old Australian who was able to cinch up the moguls World Cup title last weekend in Japan. Saturday’s podium was her eighth in 10 events so far in 2016/17, and while it puts her well out in front in the race for the Freestyle overall crystal globe, we will not know until Sunday’s dual moguls competition if it is hers for certain.
Kingsbury takes sixth straight win
In the men’s competition on Saturday, Mikael Kingsbury made no mistakes on tricky Thaiwoo course, topping qualifications, final number one, and then the big finals - all by considerable margins - on his way to taking his sixth-straight victory and, for all intents and purposes, ensuring himself of his sixth-straight Freestyle overall crystal globe.
Kingsbury’s sixth consecutive win leaves him one back of the record seven-straight victories he himself set back in 2014/15, and you can count on him being hungry to tie that mark in the hopes of besting it at the season opener in 2017/18.
Kingsbury’s skiing was head-and-shoulders above his competition on Saturday, as he registered the top scores in time, turning, and air, simultaneously aggressive and relaxed on the extremely tight Thaiwoo course. His super final score of 86.00 put him 4.25 clear of runner-up Brodie Summers (AUS).
None of which is to take away from Summers’ performance, as the 23-year-old earned his second career podium with a silky-smooth effort that just didn’t quite match Kingsbury’s speed or jump difficulty.
Capping off a thee-podium day for the Australians was Matt Graham, who went for a more attacking style than did his countryman Summers, but paid the price with some breaks in form through the course’s middle section. However, his result did move him to within 27 points of Ben Cavet of France in the race for second overall on the moguls leaderboard.
Competition in Thaiwoo continues on Sunday with dual moguls - the final event of the moguls World Cup season and the competition in which we will see Britteny Cox and Mikael Kingsbury awarded the 2016/17 moguls crystal globes and, very possibly, the globes for 2016/17 FIS Freestyle Skiing overall titles.