Despite the rich and eloquent track record he has built during his career, Quebec freestyle skier Mikaël Kingsbury felt a certain excitement before starting his first downhill run on Saturday. The challenge was clear and simple at the same time, and again, he delivered the goods and achieved the objectives he had set for himself.
Kingsbury capped off another dominant season in style by winning the men’s dual moguls World Cup event in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
In the grand finale of this final race of the season, Kingsbury overcame Sweden’s Walter Wallberg by a score of 22-13 for the 80th victory of his career in the World Cup.
Australian Matt Graham, whom Kingsbury had beaten 21-14 in the semi-final, won the small final 22-13 against Japan’s Ikuma Horishima, and he finished the event in third position.
With his triumph on Saturday, Kingsbury got his hands on the discipline’s crystal globe. He comes on top of those he was already guaranteed to win in the general classification and in individual races.
This most recent crystal globe – the 24th of his career – was now his after he beat South Korea’s Daeyoon Jung, 20-15, in the opening round of Saturday’s event.
This victory meant that Wallberg, the only skier who could have overtaken him at the top of the discipline’s ranking, could no longer join him.
“I saw the practices, I knew Walter was skiing really well and fast, I knew he was probably going to do well, and it comes with pressure though,” Kingsbury said in a videoconference.
In a scenario where Wallberg was going to win the competition, Kingsbury could afford to place eighth in the event and still finish first in the final classification of the discipline. But to do that, he absolutely had to beat the South Korean.
“Without saying that I was stressed, I had butterflies because my first duel validates the gold; it was for the dueling [parallel] globe. Once that happened, it seems that there, I started to feel better, [to have] less pressure on my shoulders. I think it showed on my skiing. I was a little more relaxed,” he said.
“If I didn’t win [the first duel], it was all in Walter’s hands, and I didn’t want that to happen,” added Kingsbury, who went on to beat American Nick Page, 31-4, in the quarterfinals. of final.
In the general classification, which combines the individual events and the dual moguls, Kingsbury amassed 1002 points while Horishima had to settle for 660 points, in second place.
In 12 World Cup outings in 2022-23, Kingsbury has finished first six times and second on five other occasions. The only blemish on this impressive record is his 29th place in the dual moguls event in Alpe d’Huez, France, on December 17.
In short, he had a prosperous season, a season which he crowned with two gold medals at the World Championships, three weeks ago in Georgia, and this double in Kazakhstan this weekend, after his triumph at the individual moguls event on Friday.
“The hardest thing about our sport is winning the globes, by far. The Olympic medal is tough because it comes once every four years. It’s like any sport; once every four years, you can escape it. But a full season, you can’t escape it. When you won it, it was because you really were the best,” Kingsbury remarked.
“Overall, I think I did the business well. Yes, I had a collision in France, but it allowed me to come back stronger. I made 11 podiums out of 12 starts, I was twice world champion in a season where the skiers were really consistent and exceptional in every race. It brought out the best in me and I find it motivating going forward. »
Over the course of his videoconference, Kingsbury even came forward to talk about his plans for the next season and the years to come. The 2026 Olympics are in his sights, although he has also stressed that he will go one year at a time.
Surely, Kingsbury is already a giant in its sport. On Saturday, however, he appeared embarrassed when asked what legacy he hoped and believed he would leave.
“Right now, I’m in it, living in the moment and going for the bottom. I’m starving. […] I just want to do my best. I try not to think about that. I’m not doing this to beat any other athlete in other sports. I do it for me. »
Three other Canadians took part in the competition. Of the group, Elliot Vaillancourt is the one who did the best by reaching the quarter-finals, where he lost to Graham, 21-14.
Gabriel Dufresne and Julien Viel were eliminated after the round of 16. Dufresne lost by a tight score of 19-16 against Wallberg.