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Canada's Kingsbury defends dual moguls world title

Mikael Kingsbury Mikael Kingsbury - The Canadian Press

BAKURIANI, Georgia — Mikael Kingsbury checks into every moguls competition as the undisputed favourite — the man to beat.

That routine excellence was on display over the weekend with a gold-medal sweep in men’s moguls at the freestyle world championships in Bakuriani, Georgia.

“I’m so happy to be an eight-time world champion,” Kingsbury, 30, said as he sipped a celebratory beer while talking with Canadian reporters via video conference. “It’s always my favourite thing crossing the finish line in a big event when you’ve done something good.”

Good? Try great.

The Deux-Montagnes, Que. product is so dominant that he makes bigger headlines on the rare occasions he fails to demolish the field — much like sprinter Usain Bolt, swimmer Michael Phelps and quarterback Tom Brady in their time.

On Sunday, Kingsbury soared to the top of the podium in dual moguls, dispatching Sweden’s Walterberg Wallberg 19-16 in the final.

The win came 24 hours after he claimed gold in single moguls with a score of 89.82 in the superfinal, ahead of Australia’s Matt Graham and Wallberg.

Not surprisingly, come Sunday, Kingsbury said he felt exhausted.

“After arriving in finals, I was like, 'OK, you got that much energy in the tank,’” he said, holding his thumb and his index finger centimetres apart. “'Let's empty the tank and push as hard as you can.’”

And push he did, leaving no doubt about the identity of the best men’s moguls skier in the world.

“I wanted to not leave anything on the table and push,” said Kingsbury, who settled for silver at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing after a shocking final run for gold by Wallberg.

“If I learned something from the Olympics — it probably helped me for this event to go for it 100 per cent.

“And yeah. It was awesome.”

This is the third gold-medal sweep for Kingsbury at the world championships, having already won both titles in 2019 and 2021.

“I believe in me, and I love competing,” Kingsbury said. “I bet there’s some people who get very nervous in competition. For me, it’s important that I still feel a bit of emotion and stress at the top, because it means I care.

“But I’m just super focused.”

In the big picture, Kingsbury is looking toward competing for at least another three years and suiting up for Canada at the 2026 Winter Games in the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

At age eight, Kingsbury started mogul skiing. By age 10, he printed off a colour picture of the Olympic rings and wrote “Je vais gagner” on the piece of paper, meaning "I'm going to win."

He taped the paper on the ceiling above his bed — not knowing that he was staring every night at the words that would shape his destiny.

“The really great ones, like Mik, really take satisfaction in the daily pursuit of that kind of achievement, “said Peter Judge, CEO of Freestyle Canada. “He just has a hunger for the sport. He loves winning, but I think he loves doing the work to get there even more than that.”

Mogul skiing is punishing on the knees, and Kingsbury has been navigating the bumps and jumps for more than two decades.

But the opportunity to compete in two Olympic events — with the dual moguls event making its debut in 2026 — has Kingsbury determined to keep going for as long as he can.

“Look at a guy like LeBron James — or somebody like Mik — they become students of their own body,” Judge said of Kingsbury, who won gold at the 2018 Winter Games and silver at the 2014 Winter Games. “They really understand how to get the most out of their body but also how to protect it.

“And that comes doing deep due diligence and having a real deep understanding of your own physical self and then also really listening to yourself — and not stepping into places where you might put it at risk, either by inaction or by overaction.”

The World Cup moguls season concludes March 17-20 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. From there, Kingsbury will hit the gym back home in Quebec to prepare for the next campaign.

“I love the life that I live,” Kingsbury said. “It's an amazing lifestyle. It's healthy. And I love competitions. And I know I've won everything. So why not win it two, three, four more times?"

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 26, 2023.