King of the moguls Mikael Kingsbury goes for Olympic gold again
February 4, 2022 11:48 PM
"As a child, he dreamt big" and went on to win it all: Canadian Mikael Kingsbury, the best mogul skier in history, displays ridiculous longevity and is hoping for Olympic glory again in Beijing.
The 29-year-old Quebecer's record is dizzying: a gold and a silver medal at the Olympics and 69 World Cup victories -- a record that he continues to improve.
On Saturday, he will attempt to retain his Olympic moguls title.
The youngest skier to have won the crystal globe -- the trophy for the best skier of the season -- in moguls when he was 19, he has gone on to win eight others.
"It's easy for me to be motivated every morning because I think I have the best job in the world," Kingsbury told AFP in an interview.
"What I like about mogul skiing is that there is no perfection so you can always set new goals."
In a discipline where judges note the turns (60 percent of the score) and the jumps (20 percent), Kingsbury makes a big impression in each of his outings.
The skier from Deux-Montagnes talks a lot about the pleasure he takes in being on skis and in the air, but he has put in the hard work too.
"As a child, he could spend hours watching the jumps of champions and explaining them to me in detail," recalls his mother Julie Thibaudeau, who remembers the desire that burned from an early age: "As a child, he dreamt big."
He had plenty of Canadian role models -- Jean-Luc Brassard was Olympic champion in 1994 and Alexandre Bilodeau took the title in 2010 and 2014, when Kingsbury came second.
Kingsbury still spends hours studying videos "of myself, but also those of my opponents."
"I'm able to work harder than everyone and I like the whole process that comes with winning, like working on strategies with the coaches," he said.
From baseball to moguls
A sports nut from an early age, Kingsbury played baseball for many years and is also a fan of ice hockey and the NHL team Montreal Canadiens.
"When I was little I fell in love with sport and then I watched the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 and that's really where my dream of becoming an Olympic champion comes from," he said.
He achieved that aim in Pyeongchang in 2018.
That was a crucial year in the skier's career as he was crowned the greatest mogul skier in history. By winning at Deer Valley, the Canadian notched up a 47th World Cup victory, breaking the record previously co-held by Hannah Kearney and Donna Weinbrecht.
Kingsbury missed the start of the 2020/21 season after fracturing two vertebrae in training.
The injury prevented him from winning a tenth consecutive crystal globe, but he still managed to win the doubles event at the world championships for the second time in a row.
His coach Michel Hamelin says Kingsbury wants to achieve "things that people have never done in the sport".
"He is passionate. When he skis, he is still a child. The difficulty for me is to find challenges for him because he is smashing all the records," Hamelin said
Kingsbury, despite having reached the age when most people in his demanding sport retire, sees himself continuing until the next Games.
"Winning at the Olympics is special," he said. "So it would be fun to win multiple times!"