At the start of the 2013-14 World Cup season, Mikael Kingsbury of Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec was the favourite to win the Olympic gold medal in men’s moguls. He had won the World Cup title the previous two seasons and the gold medal at the 2013 World Freestyle Skiing Championships in Voss, Norway.
However, the races leading up to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, did not go according to plan for Kingsbury. After three wins to start the 2014 World Cup season, Kingsbury was beaten three times by his Canadian teammate, and 2010 Olympic champion Alexandre Bilodeau of Rosemere, Quebec in the three final World Cup moguls competitions leading up to Sochi. Bilodeau then beat Kingsbury at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games by 1.6 points.
Since settling for Olympic silver, Kingsbury, who has been nicknamed “The King”, has won 19 World Cup gold medals in men’s moguls, and four more World Cup titles. He only settled for third at the 2017 World Freestyle Skiing and Snowboarding Championship at Sierra Nevada, Spain and did not win the final World Cup moguls competition in Tremblant, Quebec leading up to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang. Both times he was beaten by Ikuma Horishima of Japan.
2018 Olympic Freestyle Skiing Preview
However, it seems to be unlikely that Kingsbury will be beaten the second straight time at the Olympic Winter Games. He has dominated the pack and been incredibly consistent. One could argue he is Canada’s best chance for Olympic gold and would have been the Canadian flag bearer if he did not start his moguls competition so early. Kingsbury attended the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, but planned to leave shortly after Canada was introduced to the crowd in order to go to bed and get some sleep.
Canada will also have two strong medal contenders in women’s moguls. Andi Naude of Regina, Saskatchewan has won a silver medal and two bronze medals on the World Cup circuit this season. Meanwhile, reigning Olympic gold medalist Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal, Quebec will be competing in Pyeongchang under some rather difficult personal circumstances. It was recently announced that her mother was battling cancer, but is currently in remission.
Justine Dufour-Lapointe may not reach the top of the podium, but a medal is very realistic. She won the bronze in women’s moguls at the 2017 World Championship and third on the 2017 World Cup circuit.
Other Freestyle Events
Team Canada meanwhile has many other opportunities to earn Olympic medals in freestyle skiing. The list includes 2017 Winter X Games bronze medalist Noah Bowman of Calgary and reigning Olympic silver medalist Mike Riddle of Edmonton in the men’s halfpipe, Brady Leman of Calgary (who finished second in the 2017 World Cup standings in the men’s ski cross), Alex Bellemare of St-Boniface, Quebec, who won a World Cup in Pyeongchang two years ago in men’s slopestyle skiing and reigning Olympic gold medalist Dara Howell in women’s slopestyle skiing.
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to analyze the progress of reigning Canadian Olympic gold medalist Marielle Thompson of Vancouver, British Columbia (women’s ski cross) and Cassie Sharpe of Calgary (women’s halfpipe skiing), who won a World Cup in Snowmass, Colorado last January. Thompson ruptured her ACL and MCL in October while training and Sharpe broke her thumb at the 2018 Winter X Games.
Here are my Olympic predictions in freestyle skiing:
Event: Finals–Feb. 18 @ 6 am ET/3 am PT
GOLD–Aaron Blunck–United States
SILVER–Alex Ferreira–United States
BRONZE–Torin Yater-Wallace–United States
Event: Finals–Feb. 21 @ 9:30 pm ET/6:30 pm PT
Event: Finals–Feb. 12 @ 7 am ET/4 am PT
Men’s Ski Cross:
GOLD–Jean Frederic Chapuis–France
BRONZE–Victor Oehling Norberg–Sweden
Event: Finals–Feb. 21 @ 12:30 am ET/9:30 pm PT (Feb. 20)
Men’s Slopestyle Skiing:
GOLD–McRae Williams–United States
Event: Finals–Feb. 17 @ 11:15 pm ET/8:15 pm PT
Event: Finals–Feb. 16 @ 6 am ET/3 am PT
GOLD–Maddie Bowman–United States
SILVER–Devin Logan–United States
BRONZE–Brita Sigourney–United States
Event: Finals–Feb. 20 @ 8:30 pm ET/5:30 pm PT
Event: Finals–Feb. 11 @ 7 am ET/4 am PT
Women’s Ski Cross:
Event: Finals–Feb. 22 @ 12:30 am ET/9:30 pm PT (Feb. 21)
Women’s Slopestyle Skiing:
GOLD–Jennie Lee Burmansson–Sweden
SILVER–Tirill Sjaastad Christiansen–Norway
Event: Finals–Feb. 16 @ 11 pm ET/8 pm PT
Embed from Getty Images