Men's 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 – Mikael Kingsbury (CAN - 761pts)
2 – Alexandr Smyshlyaev (RUS - 430pts)
3 – Philipe Marquis (CAN - 426pts)
(Full list HERE)
Kreischberg 2015 Freestyle World Ski Championships
Gold – Anthony Benna (FRA)
Silver – Mikael Kingsbury (CAN)
Bronze – Alexandr Smyshlyaev (RUS)
Gold – Mikael Kingsbury (CAN)
Silver – Philipe Marquis (CAN)
Bronze – Marc-Antoine Gagnon (CAN)
Rookie of the Year – Tom Rowley (USA)
Canada's Mikael Kingsbury seems to be launching a new assault on the record books ever time he drops in for a run on the FIS Freestyle moguls World Cup tour, and last season he was at it again, taking his fourth consecutive moguls and Freestyle overall crystal globes based on the strength of seven victories in nine events.
All of those victories came in row, giving 23-year-old Kingsbury the longest winning streak in the history of the moguls World Cup and 28 victories in his young career. And, with those 28 victories, Kingsbury finished the season tied with French legend Edgar Grospiron for the most career men's moguls wins.
With the season starting once again in Ruka, Finland, we may very well be talking about Kingsbury's latest entry to the record books in mid-December, as the flashy Canadian comes into 2015/16 with three previous wins on Ruka's daunting Battery Run. Whether he takes the historic victory in Finland or somewhere later on tour, it is only a matter of time before Kingsbury alone wears the crown as the winningest World Cup moguls skier of all time.
Kingsbury's seven-win streak was just one great storyline in a season that was rife with them for the Canadians. While the ladies' team occupied five of the top six spots on the final World Cup standings, the men weren't slouching on their side of things, landing four skiers in the top-10, including Kingsbury, Philipe Marquis in third, Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh in sixth, and Marc-Antoine Gagnon in eighth.
As if that wasn't enough, the Canadian men also took home four medals at the Krieschberg 2015 Freestyle World Ski Championships, with Kingsbury scoring a silver in single moguls and then leading Marquis (silver) and Gagnon (bronze) to a sweep of the dual-moguls podium.
It wasn't all Canada, all the time though. Russia's Alexandr Smyshlyaev, bronze medallist on hime soil at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, had the best year of his decade-long career in 2014/15 taking a bronze in Kreischberg single moguls competition and claiming five podiums and second-overall on the World Cup standings by season's end.
France's Anthony Benna, another long-time World Cup veteran, also had a career-best year in 2014/15, taking fourth-overall with a pair of podiums that included his first career win on home soil in Megeve at the final event of the season. Most notably, however, was Benna's performance in Kreischberg, where he skied the run of his life at just the right time to edge Kingsbury and take the single moguls gold.
Further down the list were some other athletes making notable positive strides in 2014/15, including 21-year-old Matt Graham (AUS), who jumped from a 22nd-overall finish in 2013/14 all the way up to fifth in the standings last season. Continuing with the youth movement, 19-year-old Swiss skier Marco Tade scored a third-place finish on the biggest stage of the season in Deer Valley (USA), while 20-year-old Thomas Rowley of the USA took a second-place podium in Megeve and the title of moguls “Rookie of the Year” by the season's end.
Rowley, finishing the season ninth overall, was one of five USA athletes in the top 15, with Jeremy Cota leading that squad at seventh place on the strength of one podium and six top-10s.
Also to look out for at the start of the 2015/16 season will be the return of two of the most exciting skiers on tour – Sho Endo (JPN) and Jae-Woo Choi (KOR).
Endo came out of the gate firing in 2014/15, scoring a second-place at Ruka and a third in Calgary (CAN) before crashing hard in training at Deer Valley and missing the rest of the season. Able at times to match Kingsbury's speed and trick arsenal, a healthy Endo is one of the few real threats to Kingsbury's rule.
As for Choi, he too skis fast and aggressively, and though he hasn't been able to put it all together over the course of a season, he remains one of the host nation's better hopes for a Freestyle medal come time for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
With less than three weeks to go before the start of the 2015/15 FIS Freestyle moguls World Cup, most teams will be heading shortly to Ruka to get in their last few days of training on the run that will host the season's first World Cup. While Mikael Kingsbury seems destined to remain at the top of the competitive mountain for the foreseeable future, there's lots left to be figured out between now and the World Cup finals in Moscow. Stay tuned, because it should be a fun ride.