Despite the rich and eloquent background he has built during his career, Quebec freestyle skier Mikaël Kingsbury felt a certain amount of excitement before starting his first run on Saturday. The challenge was clear and simple at the same time, and once again he delivered the goods and achieved his goals.
Kingsbury capped off another dominant season in style by winning the two-mogul men’s World Cup event in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
In the grand final of this last race of the season, Kingsbury overcame the Swede Walter Wallberg 22-13, claiming 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 finished the event in third position.
With his triumph on Saturday, Kingsbury got his hands on the discipline’s crystal globe. He comes ahead of those who already had victory in the general classification and in the individual races.
This latest crystal globe – the 24th of his career – was now his after beating 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 surpass him at the top of the discipline’s ranking, could no longer accompany him.
“I saw the practices, I knew Walter was skiing really well and fast, I knew he was probably going to do well and he comes with pressure anyway,” Kingsbury said in a video conference call.
In a scenario where Wallberg would win the competition, Kingsbury could finish eighth in the event and still finish first in the discipline’s final standings. But for that, he needed to beat the South Korean.
“Not to mention that I was stressed, I had butterflies in my stomach because my first duel validates the gold; went through the duel globe [parallèle]. After that happened, it seems that then, I started to feel better, [à avoir] less pressure on shoulders. I think it appeared on my ski. I was a little calmer ”, he analyzed.
“If I didn’t win [le premier duel]it was all in Walter’s hands and I didn’t want that to happen,” added Kingsbury, who defeated American Nick Page 31-4 in the quarterfinals.
Helped by three wins from six events, Kingsbury ended the season two moguls with a total of 462 points to Wallberg’s 374.
In the general classification, which combines singles and doubles for tycoons, Kingsbury scored 1,002 points, while Horishima had to settle for 660 points, in second place.
In 12 World Cup matches in 2022-23, Kingsbury have finished first six times and second on a further five occasions. The only blemish on this impressive record is his 29th-place finish in the dual moguls event in Alpe d’Huez, France on December 17th.
All in all, he has had a prosperous season, a season he capped off with two World Championship golds three weeks ago in Georgia and this one-two in Kazakhstan this weekend, following triumph in the singles event Tycoons on Friday.
“The most difficult thing in 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 that. When you won, it was because you really were the best”, commented Kingsbury.
“Overall, I think I did well. Yes, I had a crash in France, but it allowed me to come back stronger. I made 11 podiums in 12 starts, I was world champion twice in a season where the skiers were really consistent and exceptional in every race. It brought out the best in me and I find that motivating going forward. »
Throughout their video conference, Kingsbury even came forward to talk about his plans for the upcoming season and years to come. The 2026 Olympics are in his sights, though he also stressed he would take one year at a time.
“I’m 30 years old, but I feel like I can keep getting better, and that’s the fun part of my sport. There is no such thing as perfection and you can always get better. It’s motivating for me. Yes, I’ve won a lot of business, but I want to keep winning. Eighty possibly could be 90, and 100 could still be in the equation. »
To be sure, Kingsbury is already a giant in its sport. On Saturday, however, he appeared embarrassed when asked about the legacy he hoped and believed he would leave.
“For now, I’m at it, living in the moment and going deep. I’m starving. […] I just want to do my best. I try not to think about it. I’m not doing this to beat any other athlete in other sports. I do it for myself. »
Three other Canadians participated in the competition. Of the group, Elliot Vaillancourt fared best as they reached the quarter-finals, where they lost to Graham, 21-14.
Gabriel Dufresne and Julien Viel were eliminated after the Round of 16. Dufresne lost by a tight 19-16 against Wallberg.