By Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press on January 12, 2018.
MONTREAL – Even the former king of the moguls Jean-Luc Brassard can’t believe what Mikael Kingsbury has accomplished in the past year.
“It must be tough for other people to figure it out because it’s tough for me to figure out what Mikael has done,” Brassard said Friday. “It’s beyond imagination.”
This week, the 25-year-old Kingsbury swept a pair of events on the treacherous moguls course at Utah’s Deer Valley Resort, running his streak of World Cup wins to 13. The last time he didn’t win was Jan. 28, 2017.
The Deux-Montagnes, Que., skier was coming off a win Jan. 6 in Calgary, then won twice on a Deer Valley course that Brassard likens to Kitzbuehl, Germany for alpine skiers, who consider it the world’s toughest downhill track.
“That course is a nightmare,” said Brassard, 45, the 1994 Olympic moguls champion who does colour commentary on freestyle skiing on French-language television.
Kingsbury won the first race handily over Sho Endo of Japan, but in the second, his two closest rivals Dmitriy Reikherd of Kazakhstan and Matt Graham of Australia but up solid scores.
With no room for error, Kingsbury flew down the hill, nailed his jumps and won with a superb 88.8 points, more than five points ahead of second-place Reikherd.
“It was one of the greatest races of his career,” said Brassard, a native of Valleyfield, Que. “He made it look easy.”
Kingsbury is the third in a succession of Canadian moguls greats after Brassard and Alex Bilodeau of Rosemere, Que., the 2010 and 2014 Olympic champion. It was Bilodeau that nipped Kingsbury for gold in Sochi, Russia four years ago.
Now Kingsbury will be the heavy favourite for Olympic gold next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Brassard said Kingsbury’s talent and his remarkable ability to absorb the pounding that knees take on a moguls course will be hard to beat. Kingsbury also completes the most difficult level of jumps that bring the highest scores.
He was concerned before the first race in Deer Valley that Kingsbury might be getting cocky when he glanced at the TV camera before the start, but he was all business for the second when he knew he had to ski his best.
Brassard is more worried about the rest of the Canadian moguls team. The sports gets top funding from the Own The Podium program based on past success, but Kingsbury has been the only consistent winner this season. Andi Naude of Penticton, B.C. has been the top performer on the women’s side, but she will be in a battle for a medal in Pyeongchang.
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