KREISCHBERG, Austria – The Alex Bilodeau era is over, but a sweep of a world championship podium led by Mikael Kingsbury shows that Canada has not lost a step in freestyle skiing.
Kingsbury, of Deux-Montagnes, Que., won the dual moguls competition with a victory over Philippe Marquis of Quebec City on Monday while Marc-Antoine Gagnon of Terrebonne, Que., took the bronze medal.
Bilodeau, the gold medallist at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, has retired to pursue a career in accounting.
“It hasn’t changed much since Alex isn’t there as far as growing and going forward,” Kingsbury said on a conference call. ” Alex was an amazing athlete and it was great to share all those moments with him.
“But it didn’t change my approach to competition. I was doing very well when he was there and I still have the same winning formula. It’s working well so far. But, for sure, we miss Alex on tour. He was pretty much always on the podium with us.”
In women’s dual moguls, Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal took silver after losing 29-6 in the final to American veteran Hannah Kearney. Her older sister Chloe Dufour-Lapointe was fourth.
For the men, it was the first medals sweep by one country since Finland did it in individual moguls in 1999.
“The three of us were very hungry for a medal,” said Kingsbury. “There’s a bit of luck in that, in duals, you never know who you’re going to go against.
“I could have got Marc or Phil in the first round. But we had a good qualification round and we skied well. It’s teamwork. We always train together and we push each other. The sweep was very close and we did it. It was pretty crazy.”
The 22-year-old said a member of the U.S. team promised to shave a Maple Leaf into his hair if Canada swept the podium.
“I can’t wait to see that,” said Kingsbury.
Kingsbury has been at or near the top of his sport, winning three World Cup overall titles, even while Bilodeau was active. But he was second to the Rosemere, Que., skier in dual moguls at the 2011 and 2013 world championships. He also lost to Bilodeau in the individual moguls at the Sochi Olympics.
Getting on a world championship podium was a breakthrough for his teammates.
Gagnon, who finished fourth in Sochi, beat American Sho Kashima for the bronze medal.
Kingsbury defeated Marquis, who was ninth at the 2014 Games, by 20-15. Kingsbury bounced back from losing his individual moguls title on Sunday, when he was upset in the final by Anthony Benna of France.
It was the opposite for 20-year-old Justine Dufour-Lapointe, who won the individual moguls on Sunday only to lose the duals final after making a mistake on an icy patch on her first run.
“To win the world championship is one of the best feelings an athlete can have,” she said. “Today, I really wanted to give everything I had to win another title, but I finished second. I made an error, but it was a great weekend.”
Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan edged defending champion Chloe Dufour-Lapointe 18-17 for the bronze medal. The 23-year-old Chloe Dufour-Lapointe lost to her sister Justine in the semifinals.
It was Kearney’s 10th medal and fourth gold at a major championship. She won the world title in moguls in 2005 and two years ago, but it was her first triumph in dual moguls.
“I’ve never won the dual world championships, it means a lot to me,” Kearney said. “Ten years ago, I won my first world championship gold medal. To stay at the top for ten years, I’ve got to thank my trainers, my coaches, for helping me achieve that.”
The next medal events of the freestyle skiing and snowboard worlds are the slopestyle finals for both disciplines on Wednesday.
– With files from The Associated Press