Canadian moguls king Mikael Kingsbury gears up to add to his records

The smell of competition in the air still gets Mikael Kingsbury's adrenalin pumping, even after years of winning everything there is to win in his sport.

The world's most accomplished moguls skier is about to depart for a training block in Finland, where the World Cup season opens Dec. 4-5 in Ruka.

"I still can feel the vibration," Kingsbury told The Canadian Press on Tuesday. "It's kind of like, as we say, a drug to me. I love the feeling of feeling a bit nervous and having to perform and having a bit of the pressure of being the favourite."

Kingsbury's six world championship gold medals, 74 career World Cup victories, and 10 overall World Cup titles are records becoming virtually untouchable as he gears up to add to them this season.

The 30-year-old from Deux-Montagnes, Que., won Olympic gold in 2018, silver in 2014 and silver again in February in Beijing.

Kingsbury was edged out of back-to-back Olympic titles by Sweden's Walter Wallberg in Beijing.

Kingsbury beat Japan's Ikuma Horishima by just .04 points in March's World Cup finale to earn the crystal globe that goes to the season's overall victor.

"Now there are a lot of guys are pushing me. The top five in the world right now is super-strong," Kingsbury said. "These people are pushing me every single race and I love it. It's never been easy and I like the challenge. It makes me feel alive."

The addition of dual moguls to the 2026 Winter Olympic menu in Milan-Cortina, Italy, is another propellent for Kingsbury heading into the first season of the Olympic quadrennial.

Dual moguls is head-to-head racing between two competitors in a knockout bracket. Skiers are still judged on turns, aerial tricks and speed as they are in single moguls, but with the added pressure of racing another skier to the finish line.

Skiers can conceivably win a round finishing second if judges rank their turns and tricks significantly higher.

Kingsbury claimed three of the last four world dual titles and swept all four World Cup races last season.

He says he and his Canadian teammates spent more time training dual moguls in October in Chile than they had in previous pre-season training camps.

"For sure, it's going to be a bit more important in the eyes of everyone," Kingsbury said. "I think there's going to be more people that are going to focus a bit maybe more on certain events, try to be good in just duals or singles.

"I'm going to try and be at my best in both disciplines."

There are six dual and six single moguls on the men's 2022-23 World Cup calendar, including a Val Saint-Come stop in Kingsbury's home province Jan. 27-28.

After winning both single and duals men's moguls in the last two world freestyle championships, Kingsbury will chase a three-peat double Feb. 19 to March 5 in Bakuriani, Georgia.

"I'm on a good streak with the world championship," Kingsbury said. "It would be nice to win both events there in Georgia. This is for sure one of the main goals this year, and also the crystal globe."

Kingsbury is driven to add more globes to his already crowded trophy case before he retires.

"Things are different. I'm older. I know it's probably my last four years," he said. "I've accomplished so much, very proud of it. Still want to win."

Kingsbury missed the first three World Cups of the 2020-21 season with a back injury suffered just days before the Ruka opener.

He returned to competition in time to win world dual and single moguls crowns in Kazakhstan.

The injury combined with the COVID-19 pandemic had kept him off snow in 2020 for the longest he'd ever been in his life.

Kingsbury's success upon return told him he could dial back some volume and still win, which is a consideration now that he's turned 30.

"Back in the day I could go skiing and not stretch," Kingsbury said. "My body was recovering very fast. I could fall and still be OK the next day.

"For sure, I've still got to still take risks because you cannot accomplish much if you don't take risks. I try to calculate, do a bit less volume, try to focus on quality, take my time to going back to pushing 100 per cent on my skis, just doing things with a bit more of a purpose and be intelligent with what I do.

"Recovery, gym, stretching, what I eat, these things are important, especially when you get older."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2022.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press