There’s a feeling of confidence coursing through the Canadian freestyle skiing moguls team ahead of the 2014-2015 World Cup season.
And for good reason.
Of the nine skiers that competed in Sochi, seven have returned looking to build on an impressive 2013-2014 campaign highlighted by Canada taking home Olympic gold and silver in both the men’s and women’s moguls events.
“We’re all looking forward to get back to competition,” said Olympic champion Justine Dufour-Lapointe at Wednesday’s team announcement in Montreal.
“Our objective is to continue to make Canadians proud, to confirm our reputation and to show that we are leaders in our sport world wide.”
The 20-year-old skier will be joined once again by her older sisters Maxime and Chloé. Eleven-year veteran Audrey Robichaud is also back along with newcomers Christel Hamel and Andi Naude rounding up the team.
“Competition is our comfort zone and we’re exited to get back to it.” – Justine Dufour-Lapointe
While most of the women’s team remains intact, the same can’t be said of the coaching staff who’s been through a complete revamp with Marc-André Moreau promoted to Director of High Performance and Jean-Paul Richard accepting a position within the Canadian Olympic Committee. Michel Hamelin, who previously worked with the recently retired two-time Olympic gold medalist Alexandre Bilodeau, and Vincent Sigouin are now at the helm of the group.
Albeit admitting to a bit of an expected adjustment period, Maxime Dufour-Lapointe believes that the coaching change will eventually pay off. “The biggest challenge this year will be adjusting to new coaches. We are 100% confident in their ability to take us to the next level. It just takes time.”
Olympic silver medallist Mikaël Kingsbury will be leading a men’s squad that will feature familiar names in Olympians Phil Marquis and Marc-Antoine Gagnon, with Simon Lemieux and new addition to the World Cup circuit Kerrian Chunlaud completing the team.
“We started skiing together when we were little. During the season, we’re a very tight group, much like a hockey team, we travel and live together, but we compete in an individual sport. We help each other out. I know that if someone has a problem, someone else will be there to help, it’s the reason why Canada has the best team and why it’ll stay that way,” shared Kingsbury when asked about his teammates.
At 22, Kingsbury is filling some pretty big boots, taking over the reigns from Bilodeau. Despite the added responsibility and absence of his long time rival, Kingsbury intends to stay the course that made him so successful.
“Alex was a great rival and we pushed each other. I’ll just continue with my winning formula. Last year my goal wasn’t just to beat Alex, but everyone. It’s not easy being amongst the top-10 in the world, you have to be on your game to win. I’m concentrating on myself, that’s why I feel I’m so (consistent),” added the triple World Champion from Deux-Montagnes, Quebec.
The Moguls World Cup circuit will be heading to Canada on January 3 and February 7, 2015 with stops in Calgary and Val St. Come, QC.
The season kicks off December 13 in Ruka, Finland where Kingsbury is the three-time reigning champion.