The FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup tour was back in business this Friday on US soil at Lake Placid, where both Jakara Anthony (AUS) and Benjamin Cavet (FRA) stormed to their careers’ first World Cup victories on the famed moguls course at Whiteface Mountain.
After Thursday’s qualifications whittled the field down to the top 16 ladies and top 16 men for finals, Friday saw those final 32 make their way to the start gate to compete in the 2018/19 season’s fifth moguls World Cup competition.
It was a truly wintery scene that greeted athletes and spectators at Friday’s finals, after a fresh coat of snow covered the Whiteface course overnight, and with the crowd pumped up and ready to cheer on their favourites, the competition in Lake Placid delivered yet again an exciting, top-tier show.
In the ladies’ event it was the 20-year-old from Australia's Jakara Anthony who was able to power through a tough finals to grab her careers’ first World Cup victory.
Qualifying on the fourth spot into the big final, Anthony stepped things up in the final phase of the competition, setting one of the fastest time on the day while also landing both of her tricks perfectly to earn a score of 78.76 points and jump to the top of the leaderboard.
And, when none of the remaining athletes were able to best what Anthony showcased in her run, she ended up with a big smile on her face and her very first win on tour.
“I’ve just had a great time skiing in Lake Placid and the course here is probably the all-time best on the World Cup tour,” said Anthony. “I’ve stepped up my game this season and it’s paying off with my results. Now we have the next stop coming in Tremblant with the world champs in Deer Valley following up right after that so I’ll be definitely looking to back this up in the following weeks.”
It was Anthony’s second World Cup podium this season, and the continuation of an exceptional year so far that has seen her lowest rank in 2018/2019 being a fifth place finish in dual moguls event in Thaiwoo,
The consistency that the Aussie skier is showing so far this season puts her not only among the favourites for the moguls World Cup crystal globe, but it’s also very likely to see Anthony pushing for a spot on the podium in the upcoming Utah 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle and Freeski World Championships.
Second place on the day went to the current World Cup leader Perrine Laffont (FRA), for her fourth podium this season.
And Tess Johnson (USA) gave the home crowd something to cheer about, rounding out the ladies’ podium in third place for her second top-3 finish in 2018/2019 campaign.
In the World Cup ranking Laffont continues to lead the field with 400 points, while Jaelin Kauf (USA) sits in the second place with 355 points and Anthony now jumps into third spot with 325 points.
Moving to the men’s event, Benjamin Cavet earned his long-awaited first career World Cup victory, coming in his 70th World Cup start. Despite his impressive performance throughout the years, including 13 World Cup podiums and a silver world championships medal from Sierra Nevada 2017, Cavet was missing that cherry on top of the cake that he finally managed to grab with a spectacular victory in Lake Placid.
“I had to wait 14 podiums to get this win and I think it just shows how good Mikael Kingsbury is”, said Cavet. “It’s not just the times that I finish second to him, but also the times when I finish further back in the rankings because I always try to push my speed and my jumps and take the risk. I’m happy that I managed to push him today and jump on top of the podium.”
Walter Wallberg (SWE) finished the competition on the second place for his season’s third top-3 finish and second podium in a row, while Matt Graham (AUS) capped off the event in Lake Placid with his first World Cup podium of the season in third.
Pushed by Cavet and company, Canada’s Mikael Kingsbury finished the competition in fifth place despite leading the way in the quails as well as the first round of finals. Dropping as the last rider of the day, Kingsbury came up a little short on his d-spin 1080 on the first kicker, barely holding it down on his feet. It was the first time since March 2017 that Kingsbury finished outside of the podium, ending an incredible run which highlights once again how Kingsbury is perhaps the most dominant athlete in skiing.
Kingsbury remains first in the overall moguls World Cup ranking with 445 points. Cavet is second with 330 points while Wallberg is third with 280 points.
The FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup in Lake Placid continues on Saturday with the first aerials competition of 2018/2019 season, while the moguls tour will return to action next week in Canada, with the final event before the world championships in Utah taking to the slopes of Tremblant on January 26.