Kearney, Kingsbury best in Meribel
Hannah Kearney of the USA and Mikael Kingsbury of Canada retained their crowns, and the FIS Freestyle leader’s yellow bibs, as the reigning Olympic champion and the 19-year-old won the pre-Christmas World Cup dual moguls events in Meribel (FRA) on Tuesday.
On a course that only received snow in the last 48 hours, and with only an hour-and-a half of training for the athletes before the event, Kingsbury qualified first to make it in to the round of 16. There, he bested teammate Marc-Antoine Gagnon and Denis Dolgodvorov of Russia before meeting up with Sho Kashima of the U.S. in the semi-finals.
The dual with Kashima was a nail-biter as the American beat Kingsbury across the line, but the Canadian’s textbook turns and legendary air advanced him to the finals in an 18 to 17 decision by the judges.
In the final round, Kingsbury beat hometown favorite, France’s Anthony Benna, to take the win in a 20 to 15 decision.
“It was a perfect day with the snow, it was icy yesterday, but it snowed all day today so it was great for the finals. In my training my skiing was pretty and I was focused on not making mistakes, I just made training like competition and took it one dual at a time,” said Kingsbury who added, “In the final I felt like the Boston Bruins when they come to Montreal! All the French were cheering for Anthony Benna, but I like not being the favorite, so it was fun for me.”
Kashima defeated his USA countryman Patrick Deneen for the win in the small final.
On the women’s side, the day's second placed Justine Dufour-Lapointe had to dual her sister Chloé in the first round. She then defeated Arisa Murato of Japan and Heather McPhie of the U.S. before meeting up with Olympic Champion Hannah Kearney in the final.
In the final Dufour-Lapointe gave Kearney a run for her money, but ultimately experience won out with Kearney taking the gold in a 21 to 14 decision.
“ I think Meribel is a lucky place for me, I won my first world cup medal here last year. Duals is my favorite event and I have good scores with duals. I think it’s because I like to fight so it’s in my vibe.,” said Dufour-Lapointe.
She added, “I was really happy that I pushed all I could and I didn’t crash. I’m really proud that I could push it like that and stay in control. I can’t wait to come back home and ski at Gabriel, I think I’ll be even more confident there.”
McPhie took third place against Ekaterina Stolyarova of Russia.
World Cup Freestyle mogul action resumes in the New Year, in Mont Gabriel on January 14 & 15.