Season preview: 2017/18 moguls World Cup

16 November 2017 22:38
Mikael Kingsbury and Britt Cox
Mikael Kingsbury and Britt Cox -
FIS

The 2017/18 FIS Freestyle Skiing moguls World Cup is set to get underway with the annual Freestyle Ski Opening competition in Ruka (FIN) on December 9, making this the eighth consecutive season the Finnish resort just south of the Arctic Circle has been the launch point for the moguls season. 

With the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games coming up in Korea this February, the 2017/18 FIS Freestyle World Cup season will be abbreviated across all of its events. Despite this, the moguls tour will still see 11 competitions spread out across the season’s eight venues (including Ruka), with stops at legendary locales in Calgary (CAN) and Deer Valley (USA), Asian stops in Thaiwoo (CHN) and Tazawako (JPN), and two new hosts in Tremblant (CAN) and Airolo (SUI). The 2017/18 moguls World Cup will conclude with dual moguls competition in Megeve (FRA). 

2016/17 MOGULS WORLD CUP TOP ATHLETES

Ladies:

  1. Britteny Cox (AUS) - 894pts
  2. Perrine Laffont (FRA) - 655pts
  3. Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) - 594pts

Men:

  1. Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) - 1020pts
  2. Benjamin Cavet (FRA) - 574pts
  3. Matt Graham (AUS) - 554pts

 

SIERRA NEVADA 2017 FIS FREESTYLE SKI AND SNOWBOARD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Ladies’ moguls:

  • Gold - Britteny Cox (AUS)
  • Silver - Perrine Laffont (FRA)
  • Bronze - Justine Dufour-Lapointe (FRA)

Men’s moguls:

  • Gold - Ikuma Horishima (JPN)
  • Silver - Benjamin Cavet (FRA)
  • Bronze - Mikael Kingsbury (CAN)

 

Ladies’ dual moguls:

  • Gold - Perrine Laffont (FRA)
  • Silver - Yulia Galysheva (KAZ)
  • Bronze - Jaelin Kauf (USA)

Men’s dual moguls:

  • Gold - Ikuma Horishima (JPN)
  • Silver - Bradley Wilson (USA)
  • Bronze - Marco Tade (SUI)

 

Last season’s moguls World Cup tour was marked by some upheaval on the ladies’ side, where 23 year old Britt Cox of Australia - who had previously never finished higher than 14th on the final rankings list - captured both the moguls crystal globe and the Freestyle overall globe in a season in which she took the first victory of her career at the first event, and then followed that up with six more wins and top-10 results in all 11 2016/17 competitions in a tour de force performance. Throw in a gold medal in the single moguls and at the Sierra Nevada 2017 world championships and suddenly Cox comes into 2017/18 as the one to beat on the World Cup tour, and a favourite for gold at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

However, there are a lot of talented ladies who have now seen what Cox is capable of, and will come into this season ready to counter what the Aussie has got in her arsenal. And, as one might expect, the Canadians factor heavily into this equation, with sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe leading the way. 

The pair famously finished 1-2 at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games with Justine taking the gold and Chloe the silver, and since the 2011/12 season neither of the dynamic duo has finished outside the top-five on the final World Cup rankings. After leaving a disappointing Sierra Nevada 2017 world championships with but a single moguls bronze for Justine, expect the two youngest of the Dufour-Lapointe trio of sisters (eldest sister Maxime finished the 2016/17 season ranked ninth) to be as hungry as they have ever been in 2017/18.

There’s one other nation coming up from behind who everyone will have their eye on, as the USA will once again field a squad of young moguls ladies who have the potential to steal the Canadians’ thunder in the years to come. With Keaton McCargo, Jaelin Kauf, Morgan Schild, and Olivia Giacco all 22 years old or younger and beginning to make regular podium appearances (including a Sierra Nevada 2017 bronze in the dual moguls for Kauf), the future appears bright for the US moguls team. 

And then, of course, there’s Perrine Laffont of France, the 19 year old who, in 2015/16, won junior world championships gold and then followed it up with a 2016/17 season where she finished second to Cox on the moguls rankings before ending her year in triumph by taking silver in the single moguls and gold in the duals at the Sierra Nevada 2017 world championships. Understated almost to a fault and loaded with skill, Laffont has the potential to become the youngest moguls gold medallist of all time in PyeongChang. 

KINGSBURY LOOKS TO KEEP CROWN FOR SEVEN STRAIGHT

The men’s moguls World Cup tour, meanwhile, saw some impressive consistency at the top of the final leaderboard, lead (as it has been for over a decade now) by the King himself, Mikael Kingsbury of Canada.

2016/17 was the sixth straight season that the now 25-year-old has claimed both the moguls and the Freestyle World Cup overall crystal globes, putting him behind only aerials skier Connie Kissling (SUI) on the all-time list for Freestyle overall globes and tying him with Hannah Kearney for the most moguls titles of all time. With nine victories and a runner-up finish in 11 competitions last season Kingsbury amassed 1020 points - the second-highest total of his career. 

Kingsbury finished the season with seven straight victories to tie his own record for consecutive wins in men’s moguls, meaning that, with a victory at the season-opener in Ruka, he could begin 2017/18 by setting yet another benchmark in a career that is chock-full of them. And with five victories in his last six attempts at Ruka, one would be wise to bet on him doing just that as he begins his campaign to win one of the last items he needs to add to his trophy case - Olympic gold at PyeongChang 2018. 

Last season Kingsbury was followed up by the same two skiers as he had behind him at the end of the previous winter, Benjamin Cavet (FRA) and Matt Graham (AUS). However, last season Cavet and Graham flipped the positions that they held in 2015/16, with Cavet finishing second overall and Graham third. 

Though Graham was one of only two skiers aside from Kingsbury to take a victory in 2016/17 (the other being Dmitriy Reiherd of Kazakhstan), Cavet would finish second overall based on his better overall consistency, with six podiums in 11 competitions, before also taking the silver medal in the single moguls at Sierra Nevada. 

Though the World Cup standings of the past few seasons have shown a repeat cast of characters at the top of the podium, the Sierra Nevada 2017 world championships showcased a fresh crop of athletes to watch out for on the men’s World Cup tour, as Kingsbury faltered and a relatively unheralded 19-year-old from Japan stepped up to become the first man to win the moguls and dual moguls titles at the same world championship. 

That young man was Ikuma Horishima, an explosive but inconsistent skier who has up to this point only one podium in his four seasons on the World Cup circuit. Despite his modest World Cup results (his highest season ranking so far is 19th, last winter) Horishima proved himself a world-beater in Sierra Nevada, where the controlled chaos of his unmatchable speed and top-shelf bag of tricks shocked the moguls world. 

Along with Horishima, 21-yea-old Swiss skier Marco Tade also impressed, coming in just off the podium in fourth in the single moguls, before taking a step onto the podium with a bronze-medal performance in the dual moguls the very next day. Add this to the second podium of his young World Cup career scored in the final event of last season in Thaiwoo, and you have another young up-and-comer looking to make some serious noise in 2017/18. 

 

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