Ruka moguls World Cup set to launch 2015/16 season
Ruka, FIN – It's going to be all eyes on Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) when the 2015/16 moguls World Cup season gets underway at the sixth-annual Freestyle Ski Opening in Ruka, Finland.
Kingsbury, who last season broke the record for consecutive men's World Cup victories with seven in a row on his way to winning his fourth consecutive moguls and Freestyle overall crystal globes, also tied the great Edgar Grospiron (FRA) for the career wins record with 28.
Which means that it's only a matter of time before the 23-year-old becomes the winningest men's World Cup moguls skier ever. And, with three wins in the past four seasons at Ruka, there's good chance we won't have to wait very long before Kingsbury alone wears the crown.
However, last season, Kingsbury found himself well off the podium in Ruka, while his teammate Philipe Marquis kicked the season off with a victory, followed by Sho Endo (JPN) and Anthony Benna (FRA). It's not unimaginable that the pressure to win and claim the record shakes the normally unflappable Kingsbury and we see something similar this season.
On the ladies' side of things, the nearly decade-long reign of the most dominant athlete in Freestyle came to an end last season with the retirement of Hannah Kearney (USA), leaving a space at the top that a handful of athletes will be hungry to claim.
Sochi 2014 gold medallist Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) is the odds-on favourite to lead the World Cup this season after finishing runner-up to Kearney the past four seasons running. However, Justine will face stiff competition from her sisters Chloe and Maxime, as well as the her teammates Audrey Robichaud and Andi Naude, as that collection of five Canadian skiers were able to occupy spots two-through-six on the World Cup rankings last season (in no particular order).
The Canadians have been solid if not dominant at Ruka over the past several seasons, with three consecutive second-place finishes – one for Chloe Dufour-Lapointe and two for Justine, and there's no guarantee that they will be able to waltz onto Ruka's tough Battery Course moguls run and dominate. Last season, Yulia Galysheva (KAZ) took the second victory of her career in Ruka, and the 23-year-old will be looking to recreate a bit of that magic to kick things off in 2015/16.