Freestyle Canada – Valérie Gilbert named FIS Rookie of the Year, Canada takes home Nations Cup
Megève, France, March 18, 2018 – The world’s top moguls skiers did battle in Megève, France for the last time this season in a dual moguls competition. The final Word Cup event closed a season loaded with nine competitions over four months, with the PyeongChang Olympics thrown into the mix.
A warrior to the last, Mikaël Kingsbury finished his season at the top of the rankings by winning his moguls showdown with Benjamin Cavet, making it the seventh victory for the athlete they rightly call the “king of the moguls.” Said the skier after the event, “I had never won a World Cup in Megève, and I wanted to end the season with a win, so I prepared for it. I didn’t have an easy run in my duels but made it to the finish and closed out the season with a victory. I had two goals this year: to win at the Olympics, and win both two crystal globes. Mission accomplished! We’re at the end of an incredible season. My poorest result was a second-place, so I couldn’t ask for more. Now, I’m looking forward to getting home to celebrate with my family and friends.” Kingsbury also had a word for the teammates heading into retirement. “Marc-Antoine was my teammate for a long time. He pushed me every day to do better; he has been an amazing friend. Let’s just say this is a day of mixed emotions. Audrey and Alex-Anne are also retiring. I will miss them all.”
On the women’s side, Justine Dufour-Lapointe maintained her momentum, delivering another inspired performance to finish on the third step of the podium after winning the small final. “I was really happy, it wasn’t easy at first but I was able to pull it together, telling myself this is the last competition and I have to give it my all and enjoy doing it,” said the skier. “Now, I’m just anxious to get home!”
Two crystal globes for Kingsbury
For the seventh consecutive season, Mikaël “King of the Moguls” Kingsbury has won both crystal globes. The Deux-Montagnes native had already clinched the honour, and the title of Best in the Discipline, in Tazawako, Japan. But he had to wait until the end of the season for the FIS to announce that he’d also won the globe for best skier in all freestyle disciplines. Kingsbury heads home with a record 49 World Cup wins, seven of those in the 2017/2018 season, 13 straight victories, a gold medal at the Olympic Games and his two crystal globes.
The rise of Andi Naude, the constancy of Justine Dufour-Lapointe
Though low-profile in everyday life, Penticton, B.C. skier Andi Naude boldly left her mark on the circuit by becoming one of the few women to successfully pull off the back full in a top jump. With that trick, and the overall quality of her skiing, Naude has shown herself since last season to be one of the world’s best moguls skiers. Competing in her first career Olympics this year, she finished sixth; and, despite a heart-breaking run in super final, she was praised and admired for having had the courage to attempt such a difficult jump on the top kicker. Naude finishes the 2017-2018 season in fourth place in the FIS general rankings. Meanwhile, Justine Dufour-Lapointe continued to make her presence felt on the World Cup circuit by holding her own among the sport’s world elites. She cemented that intention at the Olympics in South Korea with a silver medal win, though she had clearly set the stage for it by winning the prior event in Tremblant. Dufour-Lapointe ends her season right behind Naude in sixth place in the FIS rankings.
Swan song for the Gagnon siblings and for Audrey Robichaud
They had already announced their intentions last year, and now it’s official. With this last World Cup in Megève, Marc-Antoine and Alex-Anne Gagnon, along with team veteran Audrey Robichaud, are retiring from international freestyle skiing. A member of the national team since 2009, Marc-Antoine Gagnon has competed in two Olympic Games (2014 and 2018) and finished fourth both times. A career highlight is surely his bronze medal win at the 2015 World Championships, when Canadians swept the podium. “I will miss the time spent with the team and with those guys,” said Marc-Antoine after his final event. “I’ll definitely miss the spirit of competition, but I’ll do something else in life that will give me the same feeling of accomplishment. On the other hand, I doubt I will ever re-experience the strong team spirit we had in the last eight years.” For her part, the Canadian champion of the 2015 dual moguls, Alex-Anne Gagnon, national team member since 2013, will trade in her skis to pursue another dream: that of becoming a doctor. Lastly, the team veteran and three-time Olympic athlete Audrey Robichaud is also leaving the sport. At 29 years old, the Quebec native had more than 100 World Cup starts in her career.
Valérie Gilbert: FIS Rookie of the Year
The Ste-Adèle, QC skier Valérie Gilbert was named FIS Rookie of the Year, thanks in part to her 10th-place finish at the World Cup in Tremblant – a milestone for her. “It is so great when your hard work is rewarded with an honour like this,” she said, still visibly moved. “I feel that changing my run to include a back flip and a cork gave me that little extra bit of “wow” factor, because not too many women do the more difficult jumps. My aim was to push myself and the sport for women by doing tricks as complex as those the men do. I included my corks all season long, so I’m also really proud of that.”
Last stop: the Nationals in Jasper
With their FIS World Cup season now a wrap, the national team skiers head next to join the moguls hopefuls at the Canadian Championships, being held this year in Jasper, Alberta from March 22 to 25, 2018. That event marks the end of the 2017/2018 season.