Alex Bilodeau says as long as he’s on his game mentally, he’ll be ready for anything the Sochi Olympics throws at him.
The native of Rosemere, Que., and defending Olympic champion won the gold medal Wednesday at the second-last World Cup event before the Sochi Games.
It was a great day for Canada overall, as Montreal’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe clawed back from a disappointing qualifying result to win the women’s event.
Bilodeau took the men’s final with 25.72 points. Americans Patrick Deneen and Bradley Wilson finished second and third respectively.
Mikael Kingsbury of Deux-Montagnes, Que., who led going into the second final, finished six after struggling to stay on course on his last run.
Bilodeau has had a string of podium finishes heading into the Olympics, including a win last weekend in Deer Valley, Utah.
His World Cup results are considerably more impressive than they were heading into the 2010 Games, though Bilodeau says a lot has changed since he won Canada’s first gold medal in Vancouver.
“Every Olympics is unique. I’ve evolved as an athlete and as a person and I’m getting prepared differently,” he said. “The only thing I want to replicate is my mental state on top of that course, knowing I’ve done everything I could to get ready for that day. For the rest, it’s going to be a different course, different quality of snow and bigger challenges with the other athletes competing.”
One of those other athletes competing is Kingsbury, who is believed to be one of Bilodeau’s biggest obstacles to defending his gold medal in Sochi.
Bilodeau narrowly trailed Kingsbury heading into the second final, and after Bilodeau had what he called a “beatable” final run he feared Kingsbury would eclipse his score. But Kingsbury had an uncharacteristically flawed final run and slipped to sixth.
“It was a good win but I know I need to step it up for the super final,” Bilodeau said. “Mikael won’t do mistakes like that all the time. He’s a pretty consistent athlete and a great skier.”
Bilodeau and Kingsbury are currently first and second in the overall World Cup moguls standings. Bilodeau said the sense of competition between the two has been valuable.
“That’s why I think we’re so dominating on the circuit right now,” he said. “It’s amazing to have somebody like that that can push me every time’ve got my skis on.”
Dufour-Lapointe put together a score of 23.90 on her final run to take the women’s title. She came back from a distant 15th in qualifying to overtake Americans Heidi Kloser and Hannah Kearney for gold.
“That was a pretty big hit for me,” she said of her initial qualifying run. “I was like OK, I did mistakes. So now I just need to focus on the next step and pull out my tiger inside of me and really ski for myself and only myself.
“And I just really skied awesomely. I was in my zone and I was controlling everything.”
Dufour-Lapointe said she was positive after the bad result, and rebounded to finish third in the first final.
“The process is the thing that I’m most proud of, not only the gold medal but the process that I took and worked on with my coaches,” she said.
“That was I can just ski faster and go bigger at the jumps, and really have fun and enjoy my time skiing.”
In other Canadian results, Montreal’s Maxime Dufour-Lapointe was seventh and Regina’s Andi Naude was eighth.
It’s the second-last World Cup moguls event before the Sochi Olympics. The World Cup circuit takes a break following Sunday’s competition at Val Saint-Come, Que.
“I’m really looking forward to the hometown crowd and to really get pumped up by them.”
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