Oakley claims first career victory on home soil, while Kingsbury wins second straight
DEER VALLEY, USA – K.C. Oakley (USA) claimed her first World Cup win and Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) took his second straight victory, as the Deer Valley Freestyle International weekend continued with moguls competition in front of another huge crowd on Friday night.
Oakley's win came on a night when her teammate and then-World Cup moguls leader Hannah Kearney failed to make it out of the qualification round, suffering from a rare mistake at the top of her first run that saw her bounced from the competition.
Despite Kearney's early exit, the host squad was still well-represented in the 16-skier final, with four US athletes making it through qualifications. However, come time for the six-woman super final, it was only Oakley still standing, and the 26-year-old veteran of 36 World Cup starts was able to step up on the biggest World Cup stage in her sport to thrill the gathered US supporters and take her first victory.
Oakley laid down three exceptional runs on her way to the win, consistently skiing faster than nearly anyone else in the field while locking in some of the best jumping scores in all three rounds. By cleaning up her turns in the super final, she was able to vault into first place ahead of Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) with only Chloe's sister Justine left to ski in the competition.
While Justine had been able to edge Oakley in the first final round, she would have no such luck in the super final, as a pair of small mistakes saw her record a score of 79.46 to Oakley's 82.53. Chloe would end up in third place just behind her sister, with a score of 79.28, enough to earn her the yellow moguls World Cup leader's bib.
“It's crazy. I don't even know how I feel,” Oakley said on claiming her first victory on home soil, “I don't want to say I wasn't expecting it, but I wasn't expecting it. There was no strategy that went into it. Slowly I've been coming back from injury, I've been getting more confident, but I just skied my run and brought exactly what I wanted to into my run today.”
In the men's competition, Mikael Kingsbury simply did what only he can do, putting down run after run with a combination of speed, technique, and explosiveness that few can compete with.
After witnessing Patrick Deneen (USA) put down a blistering run that thrilled the hometown crowd and put the US athlete into second place behind Matt Graham (AUS), Kingsbury dropped in and did nothing except throw down the best run of any athlete on the evening, besting Graham by nearly five points on his way to the win.
“My plan today was just to ski consistent and put up my best run when it matters the most, and I was able to do that, so I'm very excited,” said Kingsbury after his win, “Matt (Graham) and Patrick (Deneen) had very high scores, so I knew I had to make no mistakes, and I did exactly what I wanted to do. Two clean jumps, a fast time, and no mistakes.”
Graham's second-place result was the first podium of the 20-year-olds career, and his calculated skiing on the Champion course showed a maturity beyond his age. Going with a simpler back-full on the top jump before launching a slick off-axis 1080 on the bottom air bump after smoothly navigating Deer Valley's long middle moguls section, Graham certainly didn't look like an skier going for his first podium on his sports largest World Cup stage.
As for Deneen, his third-place finish marked a return to form in a season that has thus far been somewhat lacklustre for the veteran.
The Deer Valley moguls competition's final rounds started with a scary moment, as Sho Endo (JPN), World Cup leader at the start of the event, fell in training ahead of finals and had to be stretchered off the course. Though there hasn't been an update on his condition at this time, he was responsive and mobile when taken from the venue.
Full ladies' results can be found HERE
Full men's results can be found HERE