The first day of competition at the 2021 FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships in Almaty went down in a big way on Monday, with Perrine Laffont (FRA) and Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) taking huge victories in single moguls event, while also putting some impressive milestones into the history books of freestyle skiing.
While the day started with clear bluebird skies, soon after the women’s qualifications were in the books, the clouds started to roll over the brand new course at Almaty’s Shymbulak Ski Resort, making for some challenging conditions for the rest of the day’s competition. Fortunately for all the athletes on hand, however, Mother Nature didn’t get too extreme with the change in conditions, allowing all the the freestyle fans that gathered in front of their screens to witness what was an extremely exciting showcase of world’s best mogul skiing.
In the women’s event it was Perrine Laffont, who came with a stunning run in the superfinal to claim her first career moguls World Championships title and her third total World Championships gold medal, fulfilling her long-time goal of winning all the major titles in mogul skiing. Now with the moguls as well as overall freestyle World Cup crystal globes, Olympic Winter Games gold medal and two World Championships gold medals in dual moguls to her record, 22-year-old Laffont clinched the last piece of the puzzle with the individual moguls gold, making her victory on Monday a truly emotional one.
“That was the last one that I was missing,” said Laffont of her latest gold medal win, “And I wanted it so, so bad. I woke up this morning and then I said to myself that it is going to be a great day. But of course it’s a lot of hard work, and sometimes you really just want to quit. There’s a lot of pressure, but I have people around me that believe in me and support me, and you know here we are. I’m just so thankful to have them, because without them I could never do it.”
Second place on the day went to the reining World Champion Yuliya Galysheva (KAZ), who stepped things up a notch on home turf in Almaty and claimed her career’s fourth World Championships medal. The 28-year-old Galysheva impressed with her skiing throughout the day, and in fact she was leading the field after the first round of finals with what was the highest score of the entire day on the women’s side. In the superfinal, however, she wasn’t able to repeat her remarkable run from the previous round and in the end she had to settle for the runner-up position.
2019/20 Rookie of the Year Anastasiia Smirnova (RSF) came through with a exceptional though quite unexpected, performance and rounded out the women’s podium in third place for what is without a doubt the most impressive result in her young career.
Over on the men’s side Mikael Kingsbury was a man on a mission on Monday, as the most decorated man in the history of freestyle skiing reached another extraordinary milestone by claiming his career’s fifth World Championships gold medal - and his 10th medal in total - to put him in sole place atop the all-time world champs medal rankings in the process.
“It’s crazy,” said Kingsbury, “With my injury in December and the fact that there is not enough World Cups left in the season so I won’t be able to catch up on points for the crystal globe, so especially this one in the single moguls, that was my focus here - to win today under not easy conditions. I’m just super stoked and I’m really motivated for duals tomorrow,"
Top qualifier Benjamin Cavet (FRA) finished the competition just behind Kingsbury in second place for his career’s second silver medal in World Championships action.
With only one podium in his World Cup resume up to this point, Pavel Kolmakov (KAZ) surprisingly came in hot to snag the bronze medal, completing a highly successful day for the host nation’s squad.
Moguls action at the Almaty 2021 FIS Freestyle Ski World Championships event in Almaty continues on Tuesday with a highly anticipated dual moguls event. Preliminary rounds are scheduled to take place at 12:45 local time with finals following up in the afternoon at 15:00 (10:00 CET).