Moguls World Cup finals set for Megeve duals
Megeve (FRA) - After nine competitions in six countries on three continents in four months it all comes down to the final event of the season for the FIS Freestyle Skiing moguls World Cup tour, where the top men and ladies of 2017/18 will face off one last time in dual moguls competition at France’s Megeve resort.
Laffont looks to lock down globe on home soil
The ladies’ moguls World Cup has been one of the most hotly contested battles for the crystal globe in recent memory, with multiple lead changes throughout the winter and six different winners through the season’s nine events so far.
While last year’s globe winner Brittany Cox (AUS) started the season strong with a win out of the gate in Ruka, she was soon overtaken by the USA’s Jaelin Kauf, who held top spot in the rankings through the middle portion of the season.
Then the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games happened, where reigning dual moguls world champion Perrine Laffont stepped up to take the gold medal, before slingshotting out of the Games and back onto the World Cup tour where she claimed victory in the Tazawako moguls competition to jump into first overall for the first time in her young career.
Laffont now holds 527 points on the season, and with second-overall Cox sitting out the final event of 2017/18 that means that the only athlete who can catch the 19-year-old Frenchwoman is Kauf, who sits 66 points back with 461.
Unfortunately for Kauf, the only scenario in which she can still hope to catch Laffont relies on Laffont bowing out of duals competition in the very first round; a scenario few are betting on as Laffont, on home soil, strives to become just the second French woman in World Cup history after the great Raphaelle Monod to earn the moguls globe.
Even if the globe is more or less out of reach, Kauf will still be looking for a strong performance on Sunday as she seeks to return the USA to the overall top three for the first time since Hannah Kearney retired in 2014/15.
To do that, she’ll have to stay ahead of the likes of Andi Naude and Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Canada, and Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan, all of whom are still within striking distance of the the US skier. Most dangerous of the three should be Dufour-Lapointe, who has a victory and a runner-up result in her previous two attempts at Megeve, and who is looking to continue a top-three overall streak that runs back to the 2011/12 season.
Kingsbury ready for full-speed victory lap in Megeve
It seems that rarely a week goes by where we’re not mentioning another record set or achievement unlocked by the man known as The King, and this time around it’s no different, as 25-year-old Mikael Kingsbury of Canada heads into the final competition of 2017/18 already assured of claiming the moguls crystal globe for the seventh-straight time to surpass the aforementioned Hannah Kearney for the most moguls World Cup titles in FIS Freestyle history.
On top of this, Kingsbury will also claim his seventh-straight FIS Freestyle overall globe as the best athlete across all Freestyle events in 2017/18, and once again that race wasn’t even close, with second-overall moguls athlete Dmitriy Reikherd (KAZ) and slopestyle crystal globe winner Andri Ragettli holding less than 2/3s the adjusted score that Kingsbury has.
However, Kingsbury comes into competition in Megeve on the heels of the closest thing to a “slump” that seems capable of, having finished second in the last three World Cup competitions, with all three of those results coming by way of a victory for Ikuma Horishima (JPN).
Though Horishima and the rest of his Japanese brethren will not be competing in Megeve, you can count on Kingsbury coming into the season’s final competition with a chip on his shoulder as he looks to finish off another record-setting season emphatically.
In every one of his four second-place and three third-place podiums this season Kazakhstan’s Reikherd has seen Kingsbury on the podium step just above him, making the veteran competitor once again the biggest challenger to the Canadian at Sunday’s showdown while also giving Reikherd what must assuredly be some deep motivation to finally usurp Kingsbury and capture his first victory of the season.
None of the next four skiers on the World Cup rankings behind Reikherd will be in attendance on Sunday, meaning that the likes of top French pair Ben Cavet and Sacha Theocharis, and the USA’s Bradley Wilson will have an opening to make up some ground with strong performances at the season finale.
Dual moguls competition in Megeve gets underway on Sunday at 12:30 CET with the rounds of 16 ladies and men, with the final head-to-head match-up getting out of the gate at 13:30.
- Megeve dual moguls World Cup program
- Ladies’ World Cup standings
- Men’s World Cup standings
- Hi-res Megeve training photos (credit FIS Freestyle)
- Megeve teaser video