A crystal globe recap of the action-packed 2013/14 FIS Freestyle season
An unpredictable, entertaining, and ultimately thrilling 2013/14 FIS Freestyle World Cup season came to a close this past weekend with moguls and ski cross World Cup finals in La Plagne, France. With nearly 700 athletes from 43 nations competing in World Cup events in 2013/14, an incredible showing by all events at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, and hard-fought battles by the world's best freestyle skiers for the 12 freestyle crystal globes, this past season will go down as one of FIS Freestyle skiing's most memorable.
However, if you do need a little refresher, we've put together an overview of the season's biggest winners for you below.
1. Hannah KEARNEY (MO - USA) – 77
2. LI Nina (AE - CHN) – 71
3. Justine DUFOUR-LAPOINTE (MO - CAN) – 70
For the third time in the last four seasons, Hannah Kearney proved herself the most dominant athlete in freestyle skiing, though only just. The race for the moguls and freetyle crystal globes came right down to the finals in La Plagne, where competition began with Kearney leading 19 year old phenom and Sochi 2014 gold medal-winner Justine Dufour-Lapoint by only five points. However, when Dufour-Lapointe failed to make it through quarter finals in the event that Kearney would go on to win, the final points totals read resoundingly in Kearney's favour. Dufour-Lapointe's tough result in La Plagne meant that she dropped down to third based on freestyle's points-per-event overall scoring system, with top aerialst LI Nina sliding into second place.
1. Mikael KINGSBURY (MO - CAN) – 81
2. Alex BILODEAU (MO - CAN) – 80
3. Jesper TJADER (SS – SWE) – 65
It was the third straight overall title for Mikael Kingsbury, as the 21-year-old Canadian continued a torrid pace that has seen him miss the podium only five times over the course of the past three season. Kingsbury entered the World Cup finals ahead of teammate and Sochi 2014 gold medallist Alex Bilodeau by 31 points, meaning that when the two met up for season-ending showdown in the super final at La Plagne, Kingsbury had already guaranteed his title. Third place on the season went to 19-year-old slopestyle skier Jesper Tjader, who won the season's final event in Silvaplana to claim the bronze FIS medal.
1. Marielle THOMPSON (CAN) 755
2. Fanny SMITH (SUI)
3. Ophelie DAVID (FRA)
It was the type of story Hollywood makes movies about, as the ladies' ski cross World Cup title came down to the last heat of the last race of the 2013/14 season in La Plagne. Olympic champion Marielle Thompson came into the final race only five points ahead of her rival Fanny Smith, with Smith coming off back-to-back wins on the previous weekend. In a back-and-forth race, Thompson was able to come from behind with only two turns remaining to pass Smith and claim her second crystal globe in three seasons. While the two 21-year-olds battled it out for top spot, Ophelie David turned in another incredible season to take third place at 37 years old.
1. Victor OEHLING NORBERG (SWE) – 494
2. Andreas MATT (AUT) – 482
3. Daniel BOHNACKER (GER) – 399
Like the ladies, the men's final in La Plagne featured a too-close-to-call battle for the crystal globe and all kinds of ensuing drama over how it was claimed. However, unlike the ladies' final, it did not come down to the final heat. Instead, we watched as Victor Oehling Norberg lost a ski while leading his quarter final heat and ending up out of the race. Needing only to finish third or better in his quarter final heat to take the globe, it looked the 2013/14 title would go to Andreas Matt.
Matt, however, went for a pass in his heat that ended up going wrong. As he got caught up in the soft snow on the side of the course he was passed back to fourth in the heat, and with that result his crystal globe hopes were dashed. Daniel Bohnacker established himself as a ski cross force with several top five results and third place on the season.
1. Hannah KEARNEY (USA) – 850
2. Justine DUFOUR-LAPOINTE (CAN) – 774
3. Chloe DUFOUR-LAPOINTE (CAN) – 521
Hannah Kearney and Justine Dufour-Lapointe went back-and-forth at the top of the moguls leaderboard all season, as Justine provided the first true threat to Kearney's World Cup crown since 2009/2010. While the incredible Kearney was able to prevail, Justine's Sochi 2014 gold medal and eight podiums on the season were proof enough that a new star had emerged on the moguls tour.
Or, perhaps it's more fitting to say that three new stars emerged on the moguls World Cup, as Justine and her sisters Chloe and Maxime ended up sitting two-three-four on the leader board by seasons end. Throw in Chloe's silver medal just behind Justine at Sochi 2014 and you have one of the great stories of the whole FIS Freestyle season.
1. Mikael KINGSBURY (CAN) – 890
2. Alex BILODEAU (CAN) – 879
3. Patrick DENEEN (USA) – 443
Mikael Kingsbury scored more points than any other athlete in freestyle this season, taking a place on the podium in nine out of 11 events and never finishing lower than sixth. The season-long battle between him and his teammate and mentor Alex Bilodeau was something to be hold, as first Kingsbury, then Bilodeau scored three straight victories leading up to Sochi 2014. There, Bilodeau was able to edge Kingsbury and claim his second straight gold medal in one of the great competitions of the Games.
Bilodeau long ago announced 2013/14 would be his final season, but he and Kingsbury were kind enough to give us one last show in La Plagne, with a dual moguls battle that saw Bilodeau claim victory in the last run of his career. Patrick Deneen would finish third on the season for the second straight year, which is perhaps all that can be hoped for when competing against the two Canadians at the top of their game.
1. LI Nina (CHN) – 35
2. ZHANG Xin (CHN) – 316
3. XU Mengtao (CHN) – 246
It was a Chinese sweep at the top of the 2013/14 aerials World Cup rankings powered by the return to competition of Li Nina. Li, who had missed the better part of three seasons with a laundry list of issues, seemed no worse for the wear this year, registering three podiums and scoring in the top 10 in every event. Her compatriot Zhang Xin actually scored four podiums out of five events on the season, but a 15th place finish at the year's first event was the difference between the crystal globe and the silver medal. 2011/12 and 2012/13 globe winner Xu Mengtao had some difficulty finding her landings in this season, but still managed two podiums, third place on the World Cup, and the Sochi 2014 silver medal.
1. LIU Zongqing (CHN) – 308
2. QI Guangpu (CHN) – 268
3. Anton KUSHNIR (BLR) – 243
Chinese veteran Liu Zongqing stepped it up in 2013/14, registering his most successful World Cup campaign in his 11th season on the tour. Liu's two victories and a runner-up were enough to give him the globe against his teammate and 2013 world champion Qi Guangpu, who managed only two podiums on the season. Third place on the World Cup season went to Anton Kushnir. While the 29 year old scored two World Cup podiums in 2013/14, he saved his best of the season for last, throwing down one of the most difficult jumps ever seen in competition to claim the Sochi 2014 aerials gold medal.
1. Lisa ZIMMERMANN (GER) – 305
2. Emma DAHLSTROM (SWE) – 196
3. Dara HOWELL (CAN) – 180
17 year old Lisa Zimmermann ran away with the ski slopestyle crystal title this season, scoring in the top five in every event and registering three podiums – a third place and two victories. While she struggled at Sochi 2014, Zimmermann's no-holds-barred style and ever-evolving bag of tricks were a welcome addition to the slopestyle circuit this season. Emma Dahlstrom claimed two podiums in 2013/14 – a paid of runner-ups in Breckenridge and Silvaplana – that were just enough to keep her clear of Sochi 2014 ski slopestyle gold medallist Dara Howell, who took third on the season with a win and a second place to her name.
1. Jesper TJADER (SWE) – 325
2. Nicholas GOEPPER (USA) – 22
3. Bobby BROWN (USA) – 145
Young Swede Jesper Tjader entered the final ski slopestyle event of the season needing only to score a single point to jump ahead of Olympic bronze medallist Nick Goepper and claim the 2013/14 crystal globe. Instead, he won the competition, giving him his third podium of the season, his fourth top five finish, and a 100 point World Cup season victory. Behind Goepper was the fourth member of the Sochi 2014 podium-sweeping US ski slopestyle team, Bobby Brown.
1. Devin LOGAN (USA) – 186
2. Maddie BOWMAN (USA) – 180
3. Amy SHEEHAN (AUS) – 170
While she won the 2013/14 crystal globe, Devin Logan was actually left off of the stacked US Olympic halfpipe team, instead being chosen to represent her country in slopestyle. Logan won the first event of the season in Cardrona, NZL, and scored two more top 10 to just edge her teammate and eventual Olympic gold medal-winner Maddie Bowman in the battle for the globe. Amy Sheehan, a relative veteran in the ski halfpipe world at the age of 27, had the best World Cup season of her career, with her first and second career podiums helping her to third on the season.
1. Justin DOREY (CAN) – 212
2. Aaron BLUNCK (USA) – 180
3. Mike RIDDLE (CAN) – 145
Halfpipe veteran Justin Dorey took top honours in 2013/14, with a season highlighted by a World Cup win on home soil in Calgary just after New Years and two other top 10 finishes. With a first and a second place finish in his first two World Cup events of the season, Aaron Blunck seemed on his way to claiming the globe, until a tough competition in Breckenridge in which he failed to make finals derailed his efforts. 2012/13 globe winner Mike Riddle sat out the Calgary contest in order to rest up for the Olympic Games. While that decision likely cost him a shot at defending his globe, it also lead to a silver medal at Sochi 2014 for the 27 year old.
Lead by their Nations Cup-winning moguls team, the Canadians claimed the 2013/14 Freestyle overall Nations Cup, scoring more than 1500 points better than the second place Americans across all ladies' and men's events. Third place on the season for all of Freestyle went to the Swiss, with their ski cross Nations Cup-winning athletes leading the way for the second straight season.