One of the most entertaining competitions in skiing went down at one of freestyle skiing’s most iconic venues on Saturday night, where Justine Dufour-Lapointe and Mikael Kingsbury swept the tops of the podium for Canada in a thrilling night of action at the FIS Freestyle Ski Dual Moguls World Cup at Deer Valley (USA).
As the grande finale of the three-day freestyle bonanza also known as the Intermountain Healthcare Freestyle International, the dual moguls competition at Deer Valley once again did not disappoint, with the crowd of over 8500 people gathered at the bottom of the Champion Run moguls venue treated to some heated head-to-head action.
Dufour-Lapointe takes first dual moguls win in four years
With three of the four women through to the semifinal representing the USA, the huge crowd on hand had high hopes for a podium sweep for the host squad to finish off another magical week of action in Deer Valley.
However, 25-year-old Dufour-Lapointe had other plans, as the Sochi 2014 Olympic champion was in vintage form from start to finish of the night, skiing with composed turns, good speed, and an updated trick package on the jumps that was unassailable by anyone else.
Dufour-Lapointe’s opponent in the women’s super final was Hannah Soar, with the 20-year-old US skier making her first World Cup dual moguls final appearance, and from the outset Dufour-Lapointe’s experience showed. The Canadian jumped out to an early lead even before the first jump, and from there kept it cool and composed throughout the rest of Champion Run’s 250m length to cross the line well ahead, earning a score of 83.98 and the win for her efforts.
“I think today I just stopped watching other skiers and got back to focusing on what I can do better,” said a thrilled Dufour-Lapointe after awards, “Every step of the way I was just focusing on ok, what’s next. Those girls were going fast, and I knew this year that the speed had to be back, and I’m just so happy that I made it happen here in Deer Valley at this dual moguls event. This is the most challenging course ever and to do it here just proved to me that I still have it. I think I proved tonight that I’m back, baby.”
The small final saw an all-US showdown between Jaelin Kauf and Tess Johnson, with the two teammates and good friends skiing one of the most hotly-contested heats of the night. Once the scores came in, Kauf would emerge the winner to take third place on the podium - her fifth career Deer Valley podium.
Maintaining her lead atop the World Cup standings despite been eliminated in the round of 16 by Johnson was Perrine Laffont (FRA). Undefeated in the 2019/20 World Cup season up until Saturday night, Laffont still has a commanding hold of the yellow leader’s bib, with 636 points, while Dufour-Lapointe now moves into second overall with 389.
Kingsbury wraps up big day for Canadians with resounding win
The men’s competition was an absolute barnburner from start to finish, with some big (but not serious) crashes, incredible speeds, and nail-biting head-to-head battles from start to finish.
Coming off a single moguls competition on Thursday night where he was beaten cleanly by Japan’s Ikuma Horishima, Kingsbury was a man on a mission on Saturday night, with his unparalleled technique and experience on display throughout the competition.
In the big final Kingsbury faced off against Ben Cavet of France, one of the few athletes who’s consistently pushed the Canadian to step his game up over the past half-decade or so.
While Cavet had skied an exceptional competition up until the big final on Friday night, his attempt to match “The King” meant an early exit in the ultimate run of this season’s Deer Valley competition, as he veered off course halfway down the middle section, giving Kingsbury a clear and easy path to his 61st career World Cup victory.
With Cavet well in his rearview mirror, Kingsbury stomped his bottom air and immediately raised one hand to the sky, claiming his way through the entire bottom section and across the line.
“I had a good training yesterday and I was very satisfied with my skiing in the singles competition, so I wasn’t worried,” Kingsbury said about his mindset coming into Saturday’s duals competition, “But I was definitely hungry and motivated today. I think one of the things that made the difference is I was pushing really hard to the top air, making the other guys feel that they had to chase me through the first few moguls. I think the pace I was setting was very high, and I knew anytime somebody was passing me they were probably going too fast. It’s a great feeling for me, win number 61. After the Olympics this is the best feeling ever, winning at Deer Valley. I’m super happy.”
Third place on the evening went to Sweden’s Walter Wallberg, for his second podium in his last three World Cup competitions.
In the small final Wallberg faced off against Thursday’s individual moguls winner Horishima, in a matchup that almost didn’t look like it was going to happen after Horishima went down in a heavy crash in his semi-final heat against Cavet.
While Horishima was able to pull himself together and drop in on his small final run, he didn’t look his normal hard-charging self, and skied out of line in the course’s midsection, allowing Wallberg to win the small final with ease for his eighth career World Cup podium.
With the win, Kingsbury extends his lead on the World Cup standings, and now has 660 points to Horishima’s 515.
Next up for the moguls World Cup is a hop across the Pacific to Tazawako, with back-to-back single and dual moguls competitions going down from February 22-23.