Quebec skiers Bilodeau, Kingsbury snap up gold, silver on moguls
Published Monday, February 10, 2014 10:54AM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 10, 2014 6:47PM EST
Canada snapped up two more medals Monday afternoon as the men's moguls competitors flew down the slopes at Sochi.
Alex Bilodeau, the reigning Olympic champion, finished first with his teammate and world champion Mikael Kingsbury coming in second.
The bronze medal went to Russia's Alexandre Smyshlyaev while the Canadians came close to a podium sweep: Marc-Antoine Gagnon finished fourth.
Bilodeau of Montreal won gold at this event in the Vancouver games while Kingsbury, from Deux Montagnes, has won the World Cup over the past two years.
Heading into the Winter Games the pair was favoured to win, with both of them having won multiple contests over the course of the season.
Gagnon, of Terrebonne, was competing in his first Olympic games.
Bilodeau finished with a near-perfect final run and a score of 26.31. Kingsbury had a minor stumble and ended up with 24.71; Smyshlyaev finished with 24.34.
Philippe Marquis of Quebec City, also in his first games, made it to the final 12 but did not qualify for the final of the competition.
Over the weekend the freestyle skiers' female counterparts, Montreal-based sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, won gold and silver in the women's moguls. Their older sister Maxime finished 12th.
Bilodeau is happy with where the program is going.
"I'm glad to finish my last Olympics like this," he said. "It's going to be a great retirement. The future of freestyle skiing in Canada is not done, there is so many good kids coming up and I am so glad to share a podium with one of them."
While the 26-year-old Bilodeau was the defending champion, the 21-year-old Kingsbury is the reigning world champion and he has won the World Cup overall title the last two years.
Kingsbury picked up three World Cup victories at the start of this season but Bilodeau won the last three World Cups leading into Sochi.
Canada is the only country that has won the men's moguls on more than one occasion. Jean-Luc Brassard won gold at the Lillehammer Games in 1994.
Going fourth in the six-man final, Bilodeau was flawless as he navigated the mounds with his knees appearing magnetized together. He thrilled over the two jumps, spinning and twisting his way through the balmy air before floating back to earth and continuing on his way.
Kingsbury couldn't match it. His knees separated midway through the final run, and while he raised his hands as he crossed the line, he knew he was finished.
"I was going for gold, but just to be on the podium is crazy and I am with my teammate," he said. "It's just unbelievable."
The two embraced, though it was Bilodeau who flashed the "No. 1" sign during the flower ceremony in the giddy aftermath.
Rising temperatures during the day turned a course already deemed questionable by some into the world's largest Slurpee machine.
Instead of powdery snow that allows racers to carve graceful turns at near breakneck speeds, nearly half of the field either veered off course or tumbled head over skis during qualifying.
With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press