The FIS Freestyle Moguls World Cup resumed with the first competition of 2024 taking place under the lights of Canada’s Val St. Come resort on Friday evening. Australia's Jakara Anthony and Sweden's Walter Wallberg captivated the audience, securing dominant victories and starting the year on a high note.
Despite the low temperatures, the atmosphere in Val St. Come was electric, featuring a perfectly prepared yet challenging course and a formidable field of athletes eagerly anticipating the first event of 2024.
The demanding course posed significant challenges for the athletes throughout the day, resulting in some spectacular, albeit injury-free crashes, turning Friday’s event into an extraordinary spectacle for fans both on-site and watching on screens.
In the women's event, Jakara Anthony demonstrated why she's having an exceptional season, skiing at a level above the rest. She dominated the competition from the outset, leading from the qualification through the first round of finals, and delivering a stunning run in the super final that earned her 82.01 points, over 7 points ahead of her closest competitors. This victory marked her fifth consecutive win, making it seven out of eight wins this season, and her first at Val St. Come. Remarkably, Anthony joins an elite group of only six female athletes to achieve five or more consecutive World Cup victories in the history of the FIS Freestyle Moguls World Cup, standing alongside moguls greats such as Perrine Laffont, Hannah Kearney, Jennifer Heil, Aiko Uemura, and Donna Weinbrecht.
Jaelin Kauf claimed second place with 74.87 points, securing her fourth top-3 finish of the season. The Japanese team was uplifted by Hinako Tomitaka, who completed the podium in third place with 74.19 points, marking her career’s first World Cup top-3 finish. More than eight years after her World Cup debut in Ruka in 2015, Tomitaka finally ascended to the World Cup podium.
With her win on Friday, Anthony leads the single moguls standings with a perfect score of 500 points, while Kauf sits in second with 290 points. With only three more single moguls events left in the season, Anthony needs just one more win to secure the crystal globe. In the overall moguls standings, Anthony leads with 760 points, with Kauf trailing by over 300 points, positioning Anthony well to clinch the overall moguls ranking when the season concludes in Chiesa in Valmalenco in March.
In the men's competition, the biggest surprise of the evening was Mikael Kingsbury's crash in the first round of finals, preventing a repeat of his last year’s victory in singles. Last year’s runner-up, Walter Wallberg, had a perfect day, scoring 83.67 points in the first round of finals and then 84.92 points to claim his first win in singles in 2023/24. This victory at Val St. Come, where he earned his first World Cup podium in 2017 and his very first World Cup win last year, reaffirms the notion that Wallberg and Val St. Come go together like fine wine and gourmet cheese – a refined, timeless pairing that only gets better with each season.
In the absence of Kingsbury in the super final, Elliot Vaillancourt, who achieved his first World Cup top-3 just a few weeks ago in France, delivered a superb super final run to score 82.37 points, securing second place and his career’s second World Cup top-3. Filip Gravenfors rounded out the podium in third place with a score of 77.70 points, marking his third World Cup podium in 2023/24.
Ikuma Horishima, finishing just outside the podium in fourth place, took advantage of Kingsbury's crash to take the lead in the moguls standings with 350 points after five events, closely followed by Kingsbury with 340 points. In the overall moguls rankings, Kingsbury still leads with 600 points from eight competitions, with Horishima in second place with 530 points, and Wallberg now moving into third with 408 points.
The action in Val St. Come continues on Saturday with the dual moguls event, starting at 16:45 with dual moguls preliminary rounds and the finals at 19:00.
Please note that due to broadcasting rights restrictions, live streaming availability may be limited in certain regions. However, the livestream is accessible in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Singapore, and South Korea.