About 40 kilometres north-west of Montreal lays a municipality founded in 1921 flanked in part by the Lake of Deux-Montagnes and the Mille-Îles River. The small city Deux-Montagnes is home to less than 18,000 inhabitants and one budding young moguls superstar in Mikael Kingsbury.
A freestyle skier, Kingsbury is coming off of a season of historical proportions in which he reached the podium in 13 out of 13 World Cup races, compiling eight wins and finishing the season as the youngest recipient of the Crystal Globe in the history of Freestyle Skiing. To top it all off, he did it all before turning 20.
The dream season even had the Sochi hopeful pinching himself at times.
“It was a pretty crazy year,” said Kingbusry. “I didn’t expect to make the podium in every race and to win a gold medal in eight of them. I gained confidence after the first World Cup and I just kept the momentum going throughout the year.”
That first World Cup event of 2011-12 took place in Ruka, Finland and was the foundation for a season that started with six consecutive victories. Kingsbury was simply dominant on every course in North America and Europe.
Now the goal is to stay on top of the of the rest of the world while learning to control some of the jitters he had while competing in only his second season on tour.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how much the competition steps up and pushes Mikael now,” said Rob Kober, head coach of the national team for the last seven years. “We’ve done our homework and really focused on figuring out what we need to do to win by analyzing Mik’s runs and what the rest of the field might do. The rest of the world is going to try to come after him now”
With a bull’s eye on his back, Kingsbury is readying himself for the competition and prepared to face whatever challenges lie ahead.
“This summer I really worked on the little things that I didn’t do well,” said Kingsbury. “I feel much more prepared now and I am definitely more experienced. It’s hard to repeat a season like last year, but I’m ready to do it again. I’m in better shape than I have ever been.”
Kingsbury has set his goals high for this year. The 2010 FIS Rookie of the Year also holds a silver and bronze medal from the 2011 World Championships in dual moguls and moguls respectively and now he’s looking for more.
The Crystal Globe is in his sights, but Kingsbury wants to dominate at the 2013 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships held in Voss, Norway and complete his collection of medals with a performance worth of gold.
“Last year was perfect for me,” said Kingsbury. “I enjoyed myself out there every time I was on the hill, but now the big goal for the year is to be a world champion. I had the best season in the history of the sport and I’m proud to have accomplished that. I look forward to doing it again and to do even more.”
With the 2014 Sochi Winter Games only a mere 14 months away, this young Canadian has been dreaming of representing his country and emulating his hero Alexandre Bilodeau, the 2010 gold medallist in moguls. With this, comes heavy pressure achieve his goals – something both he and his coach embrace.
“Mik is the guy to beat right now and he likes the pressure,” said Kober. “He steps up and delivers when everything is on the line and it counts the most. We’re just extremely lucky to have Mik in the program. He has all the ingredients of an ideal athlete, acrobat and has the right attitude. He’s the ultimate competitor.”
Kingsbury will definitely be one of the many Canadian names fans should familiarize themselves with this winter. The sky is the limit for this young prodigy.
“I need to continue my progression and not focus on winning only, but to also improve as a skier,” said Kingsbury. “I think if I do that and stay health than I will do well leading up to Sochi … 2014 is in sight and being at the Olympic Games is a dream,” said Kingbsury. “I am in a good place to qualify and medal. So why not go there to win it all?”
The 2012-13 season kicks off in Ruka, Finland on December 14 – the very same place his journey to the top of the world began one year ago.
– George Fadel