Canada's Mikael Kingsbury skis in the preliminary round of the men's dual moguls freestyle ski world cup at Val Saint-Come, Que., on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickTHE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Mikaël Kingsbury opens moguls season with bronze in Ruka

Mikaël Kingsbury got his 2023-24 moguls World Cup season underway with a third-place performance on Saturday in the season’s opening event in Ruka, Finland.

The Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic champion posted a score of 79.08 to finish third, beating out Finland’s Olli Penttala for the final spot on the podium. For the native of Deux-Montagnes, Quebec, it marked his 116th World Cup podium in 136 starts.

Japan’s Ikuma Horishima, Kingsbury’s longtime rival, won the event with a score of 92.68, while Sweden’s Walter Wallberg finished with silver with a score of 79.88.

While Kingsbury missed out on the top spot, he proved he remains in contention as a veteran on the World Cup circuit, still finding his way to the podium at 31 years old. The podium also marked his 12th top-three finish on the Finnish slope, where he won his first World Cup medal in 2010.

However, the result ended his undefeated streak in Ruka, where he had not failed to win gold since finishing ninth in a 2014 event.

Mikaël Kingsbury in Ruka, Finland
Team Canada’s Mikaël Kingsbury finished in third place to start his season. (Mateusz Kielpinski/FIS)

Throughout his career, he has 10 discipline titles in the World Cup, winning both moguls and dual moguls in the same season three times. At the same time, he is the all-time record holder for most freestyle World Cup titles, with nine.

Fellow Canadian Julien Viel also made his way into the final, finishing eighth with 74.20 points, making Canada one of two nations, alongside Sweden, to have more than one athlete in the top 10.

Gabriel Dufresne, Louis-David Chalifoux, and Sam Cordell did not put up enough points in the qualifying round to punch their ticket to the final. At the same time, Samuel Goodison did not finish his qualifying run.

In the women’s event, Saskatoon’s Maia Schwinghammer made the final, finishing ninth with a score of 68.95, while Berkley Brown and Laurianne Desmarais-Gilbert did not qualify for the final.

With the season-opening event in the rearview, Team Canada’s mogul skiers look towards the next stop in Idre Fjäll, Sweden, on December 8-9, featuring another individual event and the first dual moguls of the season.