Moguls competition starts SN2017 on a high
Sierra Nevada, SPA - The Sierra Nevada 2017 Freestyle Ski & Snowboard World Championships got off with a shot on Wednesday afternoon’s single moguls competition, where 2016/17 World Cup winner Britt Cox (AUS) continued her run of dominance this season with a gold medal performance on the ladies side, while 19-year-old Ikuma Horishima (JPN) shocked the world by charging to the men’s victory against some incredibly tough competition.
Conditions in Sierra Nevada have been balmy all week, with steady sun and spring-like temperatures greeting competitors once again on Wednesday. Despite warmth and the signs of melt surround the venue, the La Visera moguls course was in excellent condition, allowing for a world championships-worthy competition.
In the ladies’ competition there was no question that Cox was the favourite coming into Sierra Nevada, although some may have wondered how the pressure of expectation placed on her after her seven-victory, crystal globe-winning season would effect her.
As it turns out, all the pressure seemed to do was help, as Cox lead from qualifications, through the first run of finals, and right across the line on her last run of the day in super finals, earning herself a score of 80.23 and the first-ever single moguls gold medal for Australia, as well as the first world championships gold for an Australian lady.
“It feels so good,” Cox said, smiling from the finish area, “I’m so happy. This has been my best season to date on the World Cup, but in the back of my mind I was always focusing on Sierra Nevada. And so to come here and ski the way I did just a couple of minutes ago…I couldn’t be happier.
“This season, I wouldn’t say that things ‘clicked’ for me. I would say that it’s more just the training that I’ve been doing over the last number of year all coming together. My coaches are huge advocates for mastering the basics and perfecting the essentials, and that takes time. My coaches taught me that to be successful consistently you have to have those basics and fundamentals, and I think I’m finally seeing that pay off for me.’
Second and third on the day went to Perrine Laffont (FRA) and Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN), respectively, as the ladies moguls world championship podium stacked up as a carbon copy of the World Cup season’s final ranking. Both Laffont and Dufour-Lapointe skied exceptional runs in the tricky conditions, with Laffont in particular looking like she might have the stuff to make things difficult for Cox.
In the end Laffont’s run fell just short of the mark, with her faster speed offset by Cox’s better jump and turn scores, and the 18-year-old finished with a score of 82.51 and the silver medal. Dufour-Lapointe, with a score 80.74, took bronze for her fourth world championships medal.
Horishima stuns Sierra Nevada field with win
We didn’t have to wait long for the first big surprise of Sierra Nevada 2017, as 19-year-old Ikuma Horishima from Japan laid down three blistering runs to take the first men’s gold medal of the world championships.
Coming into Sierra Nevada, six-time Freestyle overall winner and two-time world champion Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) was the odds-on favourite, especially considering the seven-consecutive World Cup wins he had registered leading into Wednesday’s competition.
However, in qualifications, Horishima came out guns blazing, besting Kingsbury at his own game to head into the first finals run in top spot. There, however, Kingsbury fired back, edging Horishima by less than a point but earning himself the honours of last to drop in the super final.
In the superfinal Horishima did not back down, earning a score of 88.54 with another hard-charging run and sending the pressure back up to Kingsbury at the top of the course.
Kingsbury’s final run appeared to be on its way to gold until the second jump, were the Canadian got into the backseat after launching a massive corked 720 and lost any chance he had at his third world championships gold in the process.
"I went for aggressive skiing, and I felt good today," Horishima said with his coach acting as interpreter, "I felt a lot of pressure today, as I ski on the World Cup against Mikael Kingsbury and Ben Cavet and I know how good they are. So, I'm very happy to get this win."
Kingsbury would end up dropping all the way down to third, as Ben Cavet - second overall on the World Cup season - would take the silver medal with his score of 87.11. Kingsbury would just be able to hold on to the bronze position with his score of 82.55, edging a disappointed Marco Tade (SUI) by just .21.
Sierra Nevada 2017 competition continues on Thursday with the dual moguls competition back on the La Visera course. Ladies’ qualifications kick things off at 9:50, followed by the men at 11:20. Dual moguls world championship finals will begin at 14:00.