On a day when the weather in Sochi, Russia was all over the map, Canadian freestyler skier Mikael Kingsbury proved utterly unflappable.
Neither changing temperatures, mushy conditions nor even a blast of rain could prevent Kingsbury from winning the men’s World Cup mogul event held Friday on the same course that will be used for next February’s 2014 Winter Olympics. The International Ski Federation moguls’ points leader finished atop the field with a strong final run at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.
The win was his fifth of the season and pre-qualified him for the Canadian Olympic team.
For Kingsbury, of Deux-Montagnes, Que., it was mission accomplished and valuable lessons learned.
“The conditions were very soft, very slushy,” Kingsbury said. “We had every kind of weather. At the end of the qualifying for the boys, it started to be cold. The snow froze up … During the super final it rained.We’ll be ready for everything next year. Hopefully if the weather next spring is like that I’ll be very confident.”
The weather in Sochi has become a pre-Olympic concern. While organizers have guaranteed there will be snow for the Games – it will be trucked in from outlying areas if necessary – warm temperatures have played havoc with snow conditions. Earlier in the week, weather forced the cancellation of World Cup snowboard slopestyle races at Rosa Khutor. And on the same day Kingsbury won in moguls, the parallel slalom snowboard races were postponed then eventually cancelled.
The day before, racers had struggled their way down a choppy course that went to pieces on Friday.
"There is always a balance of risk if you run two events on two consecutive days on the same slope because you don't have that much preparation time," FIS snowboard race director Uwe Beier told reporters. "But we have proven in the past that this is definitely possible.”
Kingsbury, only 20, showed that no matter the obstacle, he remains the man to beat heading into his first Olympics.
“It’s an advantage for me to qualify. There is some pressure off my shoulders now in the World Cup. Now I can just focus on the World Cup and my training,” he said. “It’s important to make sure I come back for the Olympics (that) I know a lot about the course.
While Canada didn’t earn a medal in the women’s moguls –defending Olympic champion Hannah Kearney of the U.S. took the event - there are still World Cup races remaining for team members to earn their pre-qualification for the Olympics.
“For (the athletes), it’s very critical,” said Peter Judge, the chief executive officer of the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association. “They want that result in the bank so they can focus on preparing for the Winter Games and world championships. It’s good for the team psyche. Certainly, two podiums (Friday) is a big plus.”