Teenage domination in Canadian National Championship
The Canadian National Freestyle Ski Team wrapped up its best-ever season under clear blue skies here today and crowned two of its youngest athletes Canadian dual mogul champions in the finale of the 2011 Canada Post National Championships.
Mogul prodigy Mikael Kingsbury, 18, took advantage of the fact that Olympic Champion Alex Bilodeau sat out this weekend due to a heel injury, and scored himself a perfect event – winning both the qualification and finals runs for the single and dual mogul events. And so Kingsbury added two national titles to his already impressive list of accomplishments for the season, including finishing third overall in the FIS World Cup standings and scoring two medals at the FIS World Championships in February.
Today, Kingsbury beat second-place finisher Marc-Antoine Gagnon in the exciting final dual of the day.
Kingsbury said that winning Nationals was like a “dream come true.” He added, “When I was young I watched Nationals at Mont Gabriel and I saw Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau and Alex Bilodeau win. They were my heroes. With my wins this weekend I feel like I’ve joined their league, I can’t quite believe it.”
Gagnon was likewise pleased with his performance, “I got close to Kingsbury, but in the end he was faster and had better jumps. Regardless, it was a good day and I’m very happy to be on the podium.”
In the small final Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh Quebec City earned his second bronze medal of the weekend over teammate Eddie Hicks. He said, “I think Eddie did a great job today but in the end it’s a great way for me to end my season and I’m really excited for next year.”
On the women’s side, 2011 FIS Rookie of the Year 17-year-old Justine Dufour-Lapointe from Montreal had to ski against both her big sisters en route to the title. It was the first time this season that the teen had gone head-to-head against either of her siblings in competition. Justine beat sister Maxime in the quarterfinals, then bested teammate Beatrice Bilodeau in the semifinals to meet up with sister Chloé in the finals.
Justine said, “It was emotional to ski against my sisters, but I tried to stay focused and not to think about it too much.”
Justine is known as ‘The Lion’ because she roars in the start gate in a bid to intimidate her competition. Did she tone it down against her siblings? “No, it makes me aggressive and winning Nationals is a big deal to me, I’ve wanted this title since I was young so I wasn’t going to do anything different than usual in the start gate.”
For her part, Chloé, who took the silver medal, said it wasn’t Justine’s animal antics that got the better of her, “I know her trick, so I just ignored her. But, I was really tired because I injured my hip early in the season and it hasn’t really healed yet, so I’m not in the greatest shape. Today I had to do every run with very little energy, I’m pretty sure that’s why I messed up in the finals run against Justine.” Beatrice Bilodeau defeated the 2011 Canada Post Cup winner, Quebec-team member Christel Hamel for the bronze medal.
Bilodeau said, “I’m pretty excited about my first Nationals medal, but I know that I have to keep working on my tricks and pushing my limits in every competition, I’m ready to let this season go and work hard in the gym and on the water ramps this summer to get ready for next year.
At the season-ending banquet tonight, the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association recognized retiring mogul skier Jenn Heil for her tremendous contribution to the sport and awarded her the Canada Post Athlete of the Year. Justine Dufour-Lapointe was awarded the 2011 trophy for the best performance by a newcomer.
As well, Quebec Team members Christel Hamel and Alexis Lalonde were crowned Canada Post Mogul Cup champions for 2011.
The Canadian National Freestyle Ski Team earned a record 42 World Cup and 13 World Championship medals in 2010-11. In all 15 different athletes earned medals for Canada in moguls, aerials, halfpipe and slopestyle.