The highly anticipated FIS Freestyle Ski moguls World Cup opener in Ruka went down on Friday evening with Perrine Laffont (FRA) and Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) taking wins to kick off the 2018/19 season in style.
It was the ninth consecutive time that Ruka’s ‘Battery Run” course has played host to the season’s opening competition, and once again the resort located just 60km south of the Arctic Circle delivered a top-notch show.
16 ladies and 16 men earned their way through the qualification round held earlier on Friday, with those 16 athletes on each side whittled down in final one to just the top six who would drop in on first super final of the season. And once we were down to those top six athletes, the heat was cranked up despite the sub-Arctic location.
In the ladies’ competition it was the 2018 Olympic champion and last year’s moguls World Cup crystal globe winner Perrine Laffont who took the top spot on the evening, earning her career’s sixth World Cup victory.
Laffont stepped things up in the big final, setting the fastest run of the day as well as the highest turn scores of the big final to earn a score of 82.26 points, moving her into first place with just one skier left to drop in.
“I’m very proud of my run,” said Laffont, “I did a new run for the first time in the World Cup competition with a backcross d-spin, which is a difficult trick. I was a little stressed about it, but I’m happy that it worked out. That’s a great way to start the new season and I’m looking froward to the newt competition.”
Despite skiing impressively all day, top qualifier and leader after run one Yulia Galysheva (KAZ) had to settle for second place on the day, as her final run of 81.48 points left her just short of increasingly dominant Laffont.
Tess Johnson (USA) rounded out the ladies’ podium in third with a final score of 75.85 points.
Over on the men’s side it was once again Mikael Kingsbury standing above the field, taking his fourth straight victory in Ruka by dominating the men’s competition from qualifications through to the super final. It was Kingsbury’s seventh victory in Ruka since the event returned to the World Cup calendar back in 2010.
But, more importantly with the top spot finish in Ruka, Kingsbury earned the 50th World Cup win of his career, adding another milestone to his impressive list of achievements.
“I saw Ben’s run and he scored 86 so I knew I had to have a clean run,” said Kingsbur, “I was able to do my best run in the big final, skiing fast with no mistakes and I’m very happy to finish on top today.”
Second place on the day went to Benjamin Cavet (FRA), with Walter Wallberg (SWE) coming in hot with his second career World Cup podium, finishing the day in third.
The moguls World Cup tour now moves to China with both moguls and dual moguls competitions scheduled for December 15-16.