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Canadians chasing gold at World Cup moguls in Calgary

Canadians chasing gold at World Cup moguls in Calgary
WATCH: World Cup moguls qualifiers kicked off at Canada Olympic Park Friday, with a group of 52 already whittled down to 16. As Cami Kepke reports, it's a special competition for one Canadian hailed as the greatest of all time, and the fans he's inspiring.

The world’s top skiers have descended on Canada Olympic Park for the latest stop on the World Cup moguls circuit.

Already, their group has been cut from 53 to the top 16 – dazzling fans with technical skill and big air.

READ MORE: Calgary skier soars to World Cup gold medal, X Games invite

The WinSport moguls course is known as one of the most difficult.

Athletes barrel down the 236-metre course in under 25 seconds, completing two jumps with flips and turns.

Skiers receive a score based on the quality of their turns (60%), speed (20%) and the quality of their jumps (20%).

Reigning Olympic gold medallist Mikaël Kingsbury is ranked first in the world coming into the competition.

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READ MORE: Mikael Kingsbury named Canadian Press male athlete of the year

“I did my first World Cup here so it’s always been super special for me,” Kingsbury said.

“It’s probably the course where I have the most wins in my career, so it’s always great memories when I come back here.”

The man known as skiing’s Wayne Gretzky is searching for his third World Cup gold in a row on a course that has always seemed to click for him.

He’s also cheering on a new generation of Canadian athletes.

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Cochrane’s Ryan Portello won’t be moving on to the final round, but he’s happy to build his resume and learn from the greats.

“It’s one of my favourite courses, being at home and it’s good for Calgary to have an event like this,” Portello said, after his qualifying run Friday. “A lot of my focus is on the Nor-Am circuit this year. I want to be on the podium this year for those.”

Two Canadians, Kinsbury and 24-year-old Laurent Dumais, have qualified for Saturday’s final.

READ MORE: Alberta ski jumpers find new home after COP closure

The action starts at Canada Olympic Park with the women’s qualifier at 11 a.m. Saturday, with finals at 1:30 p.m.

The men’s finals run at 1:54 p.m. and 2:33 p.m.

On Sunday, Feb. 2, athletes and coaches of the national team will be on the hill to meet fans, sign autographs, and hold a crash course on mogul skiing on a safe beginner course.