Following a short break after a successful Utah 2019 world championships event at Deer Valley, the FIS Freestyle Ski moguls World Cup is set to hit the home stretch, with the penultimate stop of the 2018/19 season coming up this weekend in Tazawako (JPN). Single moguls competition in Japan is slated to go down on Saturday, February 23, while the dual moguls competition will follow up on Sunday, February 24.
The 2014/15 season was the first time that Tazawako hosted a FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup event, with moguls and dual moguls competitions both taking to the resorts tough moguls course. With huge crowds on hand and dynamic and successful competitions in the previous years at the venue, we're excited to see what's in store for Tazawako in 2018/19.
This will be the seasons’s seventh and eight moguls competitions, with Sunday’s event being the second dual moguls action on the World Cup circuit in 2018/2019.
With only four more competitions to go before the end of another intense season the door’s still open for a handful of athletes to wrap up the FIS Freestyle Ski moguls World Cup on a high note, it will be interesting to see who still has enough gas in the tank to make a final push for the crystal globe.
In the ladies’ competition it’s Perrine Laffont (FRA) who sits on top of the World Cup ranking with 500 points, followed up by Jakarta Anthony (AUS) with 405 points and Jaelin Kauf (USA) who currently occupies third position with 382 points.
Laffont has been the most consistent skier this season, taking two wins, three runner-ups and one third place finish in this season’s competitions to make her a perfect six-for-six when it comes to podium results this season. On top of this, Laffont is coming straight off an incredible performance at the Utah 2019 World Champs, where she grabbed bronze in a single moguls event, before taking the gold medal the next day in dual moguls.
Keeping in mind Laffont’s consistency as well as the fact that she won the dual moguls event in Tazawako last season and she is certainly one of the main favourites for the win in Japan this year.
Her task won’t be easy though, with a handful of athletes still with real chances to upset the French skier in the globe race, including the previously-mentioned Anthony and Kauf, as well as the 2019 FIS World Champion from single moguls competition Yulia Galysheva (KAZ), bronze medallist from dual moguls at Deer Valley Tess Johnson (USA) and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (CAN), just to name a few.
All-in-all the race for the ladies’ moguls crystal globe is once again an exciting one, and probably one of the most interesting ones in recent history. And while the Tazawako competitions might provide some insight after the weekend, seeing the current trend it seems more likely that the battle might get even tighter as we move towards the last two competition of the season at the brand new venue in Shymbulak (KAZ).
Over on the men’s side the situation is definitely less complicated.The winningest men’s freestyle skier of all time is cruising for his eighth-straight season of taking both the moguls and the overall FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup crystal globes. Currently sitting atop the rankings with 545 points, Kingsbury has a 170 point advantage over second-ranked Benjamin Cavet (FRA) and his 375 points, with third-ranked Walter Wallberg (SWE) holding 316 points.
Kingsbury has only been off the top of the podium once this season, when he came in fifth at Lake Placid. That being said, Kingsbury now needs probably two more good results to absolutely secure his dominance on the World Cup circuit in 2018/2019. And, looking back at his performance on Japanese soil in the previous years, it seems very likely that the Canadian ripper will be leaving Tazawako with yet another globe assured.
Still, Kingsbury is only human, and a whole host of international athletes will be on hand looking to steal the win from him, including his biggest rivals this season Cavet and Wallberg, as well as Bradley Wilson (USA), Matt Graham (AUS) and Dmitiry Reihkerd (KAZ).
Obviously the home crowd has plenty of reasons to be excited for the upcoming weekend following some great showings by Japanese athletes at the world championships in the USA, with the most notable of those being a highlight double bronze medal performance by Daichi Hara (JPN). And, with the double winner from last season’s event Horishima having also showcased some amazing skiing at Deer Valley, the Japanese team has all kinds of podium potential in Tazawako.
Saturday’s competition will kick off with ladies’ qualifications at 9:45 local time followed by men’s qualifiers at 11:30. The finals are slated to take place at 13:30. The action on Sunday will get going at 11:45 with the preliminary rounds and the dual moguls finals scheduled again for 13:30.
CBC Sports Stream (Canada), Eurosport player (Europe), Eurosport 1 (Asia/Pacific), YLE Areena (Finland), Polsat Sport Extra (Poland), NBC Olympic Channel (USA).