Freestyle Skiing

Monday Feb. 10, 2014 21:35 ET

Alex Bilodeau keeps his moguls crown: Newsmaker of Day 3

Mikaël Kingsbury's time has not quite arrived

Alex Bilodeau is still No. 1, after defeating his talented challenger Mikael Kingsbury, No. 2, in the men’s moguls on Monday at the Winter Games. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
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Hold on there, young Skywalker, the master isn’t quite ready to give up the throne.

In Mikaël Kingsbury’s mind it must have seemed almost predestined as he prepared on Monday to permanently take the top of the moguls world from his hero, Alex Bilodeau.

A story you overwhelmingly chose as Newsmaker of the Day with 75 per cent of the votes, the Canadian pair were favoured to finish one-two in an event dominated recently by this country. What wasn’t certain was the order.

Turned out to be Bilodeau first; Kingsbury second.

The winner knew he had to bring something special to the party this time to keep the youngster from passing him by.

“I know that guy (Kingsbury) can put down a better run than me, he’s got more talent than I do,” Bilodeau said, after putting down a sizzling 26.31 points as the fourth man of six down the slope in the final run at a Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. (Will Graves, the Associated Press writer on scene, described the course in plus-7 Celcius conditions as akin to skiing on a Slurpee.)

“I just wanted to go out and do the best I could and see if I could put some pressure on.”

Up at the top, Kingsbury, who had already beaten Bilodeau for the 2013 world championship moguls crown, was planning on going for the throat.

Just 21, he had idolized the 2010 gold medalist in the same way Bilodeau, 26, had worshiped Jean-Luc Brassard, the captain of the "Quebec Air Force" and winner of the first moguls competition in 2004 at Lillehammer. He had even been in Vancouver, watching from the crowd as Alex became the first Canadian gold medal winner on native soil.

That didn't stop Kingsbury from going after the crown in his own game of thrones, however. For the past two years, the Deux-Montagnes, Que. resident had owned the World Cup circuit as its best athlete.

“I felt pretty good at the top of the gate,” Kingsbury said. “I wasn’t going for silver or bronze. I was going for gold. And I made a small mistake.”

Yes. A minor spreading of the knees, and it was over. And he knew it, crossing the line angry in a reaction that bodes well for the future because he obviously wasn’t satisfied and will be back.

Bilodeau, gold medal in his pocket, went over and hugged his young rival. Then he began a celebration that included his brother Frederic, whose battle with cerebral palsy has inspired Alex since youth.

“I really wanted to defend by medal,” said the winner. “But there was no way I was expecting to ski that way. And that’s because of that kid. If he wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have pushed that hard.”

In these times, a nod in the direction of the vanquished foe is always appropriate. When Bilodeau said, however, that Kingsbury will win two Olympics in a row now himself, you easily believed it.

Russia’s Alexandr Smyshlyaev broke up a Canadian sweep of the podium by taking the bronze in front of the home crowd, nosing away Marc-Antoine Gagnon. The latter is just 22 himself.

Perhaps he’ll be back in South Korea four years hence, trying to knock the master off the top of the throne. That’s the game, after all.

With files from The Associated Press and Reuters

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