Moguls king Mikael Kingsbury ready for a season of twists and turns

·3 min read

Mikael Kingsbury is prepared for a moguls season that's subject to change.

The reigning Olympic and world champion's goal in 2020-21 is continued international domination, if a season can go ahead amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only is Kingsbury chasing a 10th straight World Cup crown in men's moguls, the 28-year-old from Deux-Montagnes, Que., aims to defend his world title at the 2022 Olympic venue in February. 

He's already facing alterations to the upcoming season. 

A World Cup scheduled for Jan. 23 in Mont-Tremblant, Que., was moved, pending approval, to Calgary to double up with a Jan. 30 event at Canada Olympic Park.

The season finale March 13-14 in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, was cancelled.

"We're going to get a lot of curveballs and you've got to be ready for the unexpected," Kingsbury told The Canadian Press on Monday.

"I try to not think too far ahead and telling myself that we're going to have a full season and all the events going to happen. I know we're going to have less of them this year, so every event is going to count a lot.

"I'm kind of disappointed for sure that my home event in Mont-Tremblant got cancelled, but it got changed to two World Cups in Calgary, which is a course where I've always done well in the past."

Kingsbury owns 63 career World Cup victories in 109 starts. He's stood on the podium a career 91 times.

He claimed Olympic gold in 2018 four years after taking silver behind Canadian teammate Alex Bilodeau.

Kingsbury heads to Ruka, Finland, next week to prepare for the season-opening World Cup there Dec. 4-5. 

He'll return to Canada and quarantine after competing in a pair of moguls Dec. 11-13 in Idre Fjall, Sweden.

Kingsbury would then have time to get on snow in Canada ahead of Calgary's World Cups, if public health officials give those events the green light.

A World Cup in Deer Valley, Utah, then precedes the world freestyle and snowboard championships Feb. 18-28 at Beijing's venues for the 2022 Winter Games.

Kingsbury would like to arrive in China with a 10th crystal globe secured.

"Yes, my goal is to win 10 in a row," Kingsbury said. "Now that I know that I have three races before Christmas, there's 300 points to go get, and I've got to be the closest to the 300 points possible. 

"That would put me in a good position after Christmas for whatever events we have."

Kingsbury spent less off-season time on snow because of the pandemic. The Whistler-Blackcomb glacier in B.C. was closed this summer and he didn't travel to Australia as he normally would.

He got three weeks of pre-season skiing done in Zermatt, Switzerland, in October.  Kingsbury is working out at home in preparation for his departure for Finland next week.

"I knew I was going to be home a lot," he said. "I'm going to try to be in the best shape as I can to make sure that when I'm on snow, I put myself in the best position to get back to the level that I want to be.

"The little break felt very good for me. I think my body needed that. It was the first time in 13 years I had a break of six months without skiing. I was super-motivated to go to Switzerland. It actually took me way less time than I thought to get back to the level I wanted."

The only freestyle skier in history with more career World Cup victories is Conny Kissling, a Swiss woman who earned 106 between 1981 and 1992 across various disciplines including moguls.

Kingsbury will donate $500 for each of his wins this season to The Breakfast Club of Canada, which provides breakfasts at almost 1,900 schools across Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2020.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press