From FIS-Ski reports
The second of back-to-back FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup competitions in Tazawako went down on Sunday afternoon with Perrine Laffont of France and Mikael Kingsbury of Canada claiming their second victories of the weekend in an extremely exciting dual moguls event.
It was another superb day in the Akita prefecture’s biggest ski resort of Tazawako, with the second dual moguls event of the season delivering some thrilling and tight head-to-head battles as the world’s best moguls skiers showcased their talents in front of an enthusiastic Japanese crowd.
Team USA’s Brad Wilson of Butte, Montana, encored his third-place podium finish in the Saturday moguls with a fifth place in the Sunday duals. He again was the highest-finishing American in the men’s competition. With the weekend performances, Wilson jumped to seventh place from ninth in the World Cup rankings. He is a two-time Winter Olympian and a Butte Central Catholic High School graduate.
In the women’s event it was Laffont who went for a back-to-back victory in Tazawako after edging out Hannah Soar of the United States, Laura Grasseman of German), Yulia Galysheva Kazakhstan and, finally, Jaelin Kauf of the United States in the big final for her fourth World Cup win of the season, making it also eight-for-eight when it comes to podium finishes for the French skier in 2018-19.
However luck was on Laffont’s side on Sunday, as the French skier experienced some problems in the semi final against Galysheva. Despite a little bobble in the middle section, her air score and clearly faster skiing made her advance to the big final. There, on the other hand, Laffont benefited from Kauf’s mistake and came up victorious at the end of the day.
Still you have to be good to be lucky, and Laffont’s result obviously proves the rule, and few would argue that the 20-year-old Olympic and world champion is the best in the world right now.
“It’s so crazy,” said Laffont, “It’s my first back-to-back win on the World Cup, so I’m just really really happy. Now we’re going to Kazakhstan for the season’s finals and I’m getting closer to get the crystal globe so it’s a very exciting time. I don’t want to jinx anything, so let’s just wait until the final competition is in the books.”
After failing to stomp her big final run cleanly, Kauf finished the competition in second for her first World Cup podium since the Calgary event in the middle of January.
Jakara Anthony of Australia rounded out the women’s podium in third, wrapping up this weekend’s action in Japan with another top-3 finish.
In the women’s standing Laffont increased her advantage on Anthony to over 150 points, and since the Aussie skier won’t be travelling to Kazakhstan for the season’s finals in Shymbulak, it looks like Laffont will be soon taking home her second straight crystal globe once the competition goes down next weekend.
Things spiced up quite a bit once the action moved to the men’s event with the winningest freestyle man of all times, Kingsbury, lining it up in the big final against last year’s winner and fan favorite, Ikuma Horishima. However, for the second day in a row it was Kingsbury stepping his game up to throw down a 1440 on the top air, working his way through the middle section to catch up one of the fastest skiers on tour, finally passing his Japanese competitor after the bottom jump to take the win with 87.94 points to Horishima’s 86.63.
“It was a great weekend here in Tazawako,” said Kingsbury, “It’s fun to ski with less pressure and try some new stuff. Yesterday I did my first 1440 in competition and today I also tried it in duals, so it’s another different game. It’s cool to push myself and feel like a little kid out there trying new tricks.”
With his second win of the weekend Kingsbury not only went for his seventh World Cup victory of the season but he also clinched his eighth consecutive moguls World Cup crystal globe to add to his impressive double world championships gold medals in 2018-19, making this perhaps his strongest season in a career that has been absolutely full of them.
Finishing behind Kingsbury in second, Horishima snagged his third top-three finish of 2018-19, while Benjamin Cavet of France came in third after edging out Matt Graham of Australia in the small final.
The season’s final competitions are slated to go down at the new World Cup venue in Shymbulak, Kazakhstan, next weekend, with the single moguls event set to take place on Saturday, March 2 and dual moguls competition following on Sunday, March 3.
— Compiled by Bruce Sayler for buttesports.com