Since he was a boy, Mikäel Kingsbury has started out every day with a reminder that he would one day be Olympic champion.
After watching Finland’s Janne Lahtela win gold in moguls at Salt Lake City 2002, a 9-year-old Kingsbury drew the Olympic rings on a piece of paper, added the message “I will win” and taped it to the ceiling above his bed. He’s woken up to that drawing every day since then.
Kingsbury did go on to win—a lot. The 25-year-old has earned a record 48 wins on the World Cup circuit, and came into PyeongChang 2018 ranked No. 1 in the world. But the one accolade that had eluded him was an Olympic gold medal. In PyeongChang, that all changed.
“I just realized my dream today and it’s the best day of my life,” Kingsbury said after winning gold in the men’s moguls on Day 3 in PyeongChang.
He had come close at Sochi 2014, winning silver behind Canadian teammate Alexandre Bilodeau. But Kingsbury knew that, despite all the success he’d had, nothing was going to be guaranteed in PyeongChang. So he began working with a trainer to prepare psychologically for the unique, once-every-four-years pressures of the Winter Games.
“(Among) the top 20, anyone can win the Olympic Games. It’s all mental,” said Kingsbury. “It’s an event where everyone is more nervous and today we had a hard course. It wasn’t easy to get down to the bottom and it plays in your head.”
Knowing what was at stake—and that his parents were in the crowd cheering him on—Kingsbury admitted he did feel nervous at the beginning of the day. But once he put on his helmet and goggles and hit the hill, it all melted away.
“Today I was trying to keep it as simple as I can in my head,” said Kingsbury. “I was trying to stay focused on my skiing. I knew my parents were in (the crowd). I was trying to not look to them too much. I just focused on the moguls. I was so in the zone I couldn’t focus on the crowd or the songs they were playing.”
Once his final run was done, however, Kingsbury leapt at the opportunity to celebrate with the people who’d nurtured his Olympic dream since he was a child.
“It’s so special for me to win a gold medal and the chance to see (my parents) straight after,” he said. “I’m so happy they were there to witness this. I couldn’t wait to jump in their arms when I knew I was going to win.”
Whether Kingsbury will keep that inspirational drawing above his bed—or possibly even make a new one—remains to be seen. But there’s one thing that he does know for certain.
“For the rest of my life, I’ll be Olympic champion.”