Tazawako moguls wins for Kearney and Kingsbury
TAZAWAKO, JPN – The first of this weekend's back-to-back moguls (and, on Sunday, dual moguls) events in Tazawako, Japan, saw Hannah Kearney (USA) and Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) do what they go best, as the two most consistently dominant skiers in Freestyle claimed victories once again.
Kearney lead from qualifications straight through to the finals in a dominant performance that put her well out in front in the race for the 2014/15 moguls crystal globe. Kearney now has two wins in a row, four straight podiums, and a 114 point lead over Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN) in the moguls World Cup standings.
Second place went to Junko Hoshino (JPN), who was able to score the best result of her career on home soil in front of enthusiastic Japanese crowd of 5000 strong, while Audrey Robichaud (CAN) claimed third place in her 100th career World Cup event, continuing a trend of strong skiing that has seen her claim four of her eight career podiums on Japanese soil.
“I think it's the raw fish,” Robichaud joked when asked about her success in Japan.
In other good news for the US squad, 17 year old Morgan Schild scored a fifth-place result in just her fifth-ever World Cup start, suggesting perhaps that the void left by Kearney's upcoming retirement could be filled sooner than some might have expected.
In men's competition, Kingsbury claimed his sixth straight victory to match the men's moguls record he had already co-held with Jeremy Bloom while also clinching his fourth straight moguls crystal globe and all but ensuring his fourth straight freestyle overall title.
Asked about his plans for Sunday's dual moguls competition now that he has clinched the crystal globe, Kingsbury – who has been publicly musing about attempting a never been done, off-axis, four rotation spin in competition – was of two minds.
“I just want to go out there and have some fun,” he said, “But also, I'm chasing this seven-straight wins record, and it would be nice to have that, so we'll see.”
With the victory, Kingsbury also moved himself to within one win of matching Edgar Grospiron (FRA) for the most men's moguls victories in World Cup history. (Kingsbury, might we remind you, is only 22 years old, while Grospiron was 25 years old when he won his final World Cup event.)
Second place in Tazawako went to Jeremy Cota (USA) for his first podium in over two years and, while third spot was taken by top qualifier Alexandr Smyshlyaev (RUS), who continues to have a career-best season in his 10th year on the World Cup tour.
Honourable mention on the men's side goes to 21-year-old Benjamin Cavet (FRA), who landed in fourth spot after struggling all season with injuries.