VANCOUVER, B.C. (from Freestyle Canada) – Freestyle Canada’s men’s and women’s moguls teams are off to a strong start at the 2018 Pyeonghang Olympic Winter Games, qualifying five of seven athletes directly into the finals.
Expectations were high going into qualifications, as the Canadian team combined for a total of four medals at the 2017 Olympic moguls test events, as well as winning two gold and two silver medals in moguls at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.
The men’s team is led by the “King of the Moguls” and Olympic silver medallist Mikaël Kingsbury. He enters the competition holding the all-time number of wins by any male freestyle skier in history, along with the longest win streak in FIS World Cup history, with 13. Kingsbury is joined by two-time Olympians Philippe Marquis and Marc-Antoine Gagnon.
There are two qualification runs in each competition and after the first qualification run, the top 10 men and women will advance directly into the finals. The remaining 20 men and women have a second chance to make the finals in the second qualification run, held directly before the finals. The top 10 men and women from the second qualification run will advance to the finals.
As expected, Kingsbury laid down a smooth, fast qualifying run, with conservative air tricks to qualify into finals in first place with a score of 86.07.
“I tried not to push too hard, but set a good time and not make many mistakes,” Kingsbury said. “I’m very happy with my skiing, my goal was just to get to the next round and I feel I did my job.”
Philippe Marquis put forth a courageous and extraordinary performance, qualifying directly into finals in eighth spot with a score of 77.77. Marquis sustained a serious injury Jan. 5 during a training run at the FIS World Cup in Deer Valley, Utah, where he tore the ACL in his knee. Remarkably, Marquis returned to skis just two weeks later, and is here competing for Team Canada in his second Olympics.
“I couldn’t miss the Games. It’s been so much hard work, commitment and great results these last four years with Mik and Marc,” declared Marquis. “I wanted to do as much as I could to get to the ‘Big Show’ and as soon as I said that, everyone got behind me. I’m here because of the team: the doctors, staff, coaches and my teammates all stepped up with their support.”
A late season injury like the one Marquis sustained could derail even the strongest of athletes, but Marquis maintained a positive attitude and was determined to compete.
“I just wanted to go for my dreams,” Marquis said. “It’s one of those things you can either stay on the ground or get back up. I chose to rise above and I think that’s my force: I don’t give up, I keep fighting. Whatever the outcome at the Olympics, just to make it from top to bottom is a miracle for me.”
Marc-Antoine Gagnon scored 76.32 and finished in 11th place and will ski a second qualifying run to try to make finals.
The women’s team of Andi Naude, Justine Dufour-Lapointe, Audrey Robichaud and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe took to the course first. Naude, the second-ranked women moguls skier in the world, qualified in second place with a score of 79.60, her high score a result of her difficult back-full top air trick and speed down the course.
“I’m thrilled to be able to put down that first run at my first Olympics,” Naude said. “I was just trying to keep my preparation for today’s run similar to what I’ve done during my World Cup season. I’m really happy with the results.”
Defending Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe qualified in fourth position with a score of 77.66 and three-time Olympian Audrey Robichaud qualified in 10th position, the final spot. Defending silver medallist Chloé Dufour-Lapointe finished in 13th position with a score of 69.53; she will have to ski a second qualifying run and finish in the top 10 in order to make finals.
It will be a three-run final to award the medals in the men’s and women’s moguls, with the top 20 men and women skiers being cut to the top 12 and then to the top 6.
Next Olympic moguls events:
Women’s Moguls Qualification Run 2, 5:30 AM ET Sunday
Women’s Moguls Finals, 7 AM ET Sunday
Men’s Moguls Qualification Run 2, 5:30 AM ET Monday
Men’s Moguls Finals, 7 AM ET Monday