Moguls World Cup 2015/16 season recap

31 March 2016 01:58
Top 2015/16 skiers Mikael Kingsbury an Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe
Top 2015/16 skiers Mikael Kingsbury an Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe -
FIS/Buchholz

The 2015/16 FIS Freestyle Skiing moguls World Cup was one of the most intriguing and exciting seasons we’ve seen in several years, with new talents emerging in both the ladies’ and men’s fields and with venues old and new stepping up to put on many memorable competitions. From Mikael Kingsbury’s record-setting opening win in Ruka, to Maxime, Chloe, and Justine Dufour-Lapointe’s “Sister Sweep” of the podium in Val Saint-Come, to the first-of-its-kind moguls city event on a giant scaffolding set-up in Moscow (RUS), the 2015/16 moguls World Cup season was one to remember. Here are some of the highlights…

 

Moguls - Ladies Top Three

  1. Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) - 494 pts
  2. Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) - 471 pts
  3. Perrine Laffont (FRA) - 414 pts

Rookie of the Year: Jaelin Kauf (USA) - 175 pts

The retirement of Hannah Kearney (USA) at the end of the 2014/15 season ushered in the beginning of a new era in ladies’ moguls skiing in 2015/16. Kearney was one of the most dominant forces in skiing for nearly a decade leading up to her retirement, and after she left the sport with her fifth-straight moguls crystal globe and fourth Freestyle overall globe in five years in hand, the playing field was opened for a new queen of moguls to be crowned.

 

 

When the dust finally settled after the season finale in Moscow, it would be Chloe Dufour-Lapointe wearing the crown, triumphing after an epic, back-and-forth battle with her younger sister Justine to take home her first crystal globe in her ninth season on the World Cup circuit. Chloe showed remarkable consistency throughout the season, scoring six podiums in eight events and only missing out on the top-10 once, when she finished 14th in Deer Valley. 

That Deer Valley stumble was poorly timed, however, as Justine would win back-to-back competitions at the legendary venue to overtake her sister for the World Cup lead and looking for all the world like she would be impossible to catch once she had hit her stride. Stumbles of her own later at the next competitions in Tazawako (JPN) would cost her, however, and Chloe would post back-to-back podiums of her own at the Japanese venue to take back the yellow bib and a lead she would not relinquish. 

While their 1-2 rankings on the final standings was a testament to impressive seasons from both ladies, the highlight of the year came when Chloe and Justine, along with their elder sister Maxime, were involved in one of the most incredible results in Freestyle history when the three siblings swept the podium on home soil in Val Saint-Come. The “Sister Sweep” (Justine first, Chloe second, Maxime third) was the first time three siblings had stood on the podium together in Freestyle World Cup history, and a moment that won’t be soon forgotten.

 

 

Third on the season went to Perrine Laffont (FRA). In just her third World Cup season and still only 17 years old, Laffont’s rise up the moguls ranks in 2015/16 was incredible to watch. While the youngster showed vat potential right from her first, “Rookie of the Year”-winning season in 2013/14, to see her score a pair of victories while only missing the top-10 once in eight events was more than many would have wagered on before the season started.

Along with Laffont, several other ladies showed that they too have what it takes to challenge for top spot in the coming years. This season’s “Rookie of the Year” Jaelin Kauf (USA) took her first career podium in just her fourth start, on home soil in Deer Valley, while Andi Naude (CAN) and Hedvig Wessel (NOR) both finally made the jump on to the podium after several seasons of improvement. And then there was Deborah Scanzio (SUI), the 29-year-old veteran of over 100 World Cup starts, who took the first victory of her career in Tazawako this past season, showing us all that perseverance leads to success, whatever road you may take. 

 

Moguls - Men Top Three 

  1. Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) - 705 pts
  2. Matt Graham (AUS) - 378 pts
  3. Benjamin Cavet (FRA) - 378 pts

Rookie of the Year - Ikuma Horishima 94 pts

The 2015/16 men’s moguls World Cup season started off with a bang, with Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury taking the win at the season-opening competition in Ruka (FIN) to surpass Edgar Grospiron for the most victories in moguls World Cup history with his 29th win. While there are still some achievements left to unlock for Kingsbury to be considered the “Greatest of all Time,” the fact that he set the record in just his 62nd World Cup start - making for a winning percentage of nearly 50% - puts him in a class all of his own on the World Cup level. 

 

 

That win in Ruka wouldn’t be the only record Kingsbury would set in 2015/16, as he also took both the moguls and Freestyle overall crystal globes for the fifth time, besting Dale Begg-Smith (AUS) and Grospiron’s marks of four moguls globes each and tying  Eric Laboureix’s (FRA) mark of five overall globes. No man, however, has ever won five straight, and with his performance throughout this past season Kingsbury has once again distinguished himself above all others in World Cup history.

 

 

 

While Kingsbury was again dominant in 2015/16, with five victories and two second-place finishes in eight events giving him 705 points to second-overall Matt Graham’s (AUS) 378, one could argue that the 23-year-old saw some of the stiffest competition he’s had to face down since his sophomore season. Graham and third-overall finisher Ben Cavet, 21 and 22 years old, respectively, challenged Kingsbury at every turn, with both athletes earning three podiums on the season (including the first World Cup victory for Graham) while showing the ability to match Kingsbury’s speed, technique and trick arsenal when at their best. Throw in the impressive head-to-head victory by Jimi Solonen (FIN) over Kingsbury at the Deer Valley dual moguls, and there are some intriguing subplots developing in a moguls narrative that Kingsbury as so dominated for the past five seasons.

Solonen went on to finish third in Deer Valley for the first podium of his World Cup career, and he, along with Ludvig Fjallstrom (SWE), who also scored his first World Cup podium in Deer Valley, represent new life for a Scandinavian moguls scene that has been looking for a new hero since the retirement of Janne Lehtela (FIN). And, with rising athletes like Solonen and Fjallstrom both just 21-years-old, along with other up-and-comers like Japanese “Rookie of the Year” Ikuma Horishima and his teammate Daichi Hara both only 19 years of age, it’s looking the future is now in moguls skiing. 

However, all of that been said, sometimes you can’t mess with good old experience. Just ask the USA’s Bradley Wilson, who returned to the World Cup towards the end of the season after nearly two years off battling injury to claim victory at Tazawako in his first competition back. Wilson would go on to earn two more top-10s before season end, helping to close out 2015/16 on a high note for a US men’s team that has had its share of recent struggles.