Alex Bilodeau, Mikaël Kingsbury take gold, silver in Olympic moguls
Bilodeau defends Olympics moguls title
Alex Bilodeau won the gold medal in men's moguls at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games on Monday and his teammate Mikaël Kingsbury grabbed the silver.
The bronze medal went to a Russian skier, Alexander Smyshlyaev, to the delight of the crowd.
A third Canadian skier, Marc-Antoine Gagnon, finished just off the podium in fourth place.
Bilodeau, the champion four years ago in Vancouver, becomes the first man to ever successfully defend the men's Olympic moguls crown.
He's also the first Canadian athlete to defend an Olympic crown in any event since speed skater Catriona Le May Doan won gold in the 500 metres in both 1998 and 2002.
"I knew I had done everything to get ready," Bilodeau told CBC after his victory. "I knew I had to put the pressure on that young kid who's so good," referring to his teammate, Kingsbury.
"I went for the best run of my career," he said.
Bilodeau and Kingsbury came in as heavy favourites, having spent much of the last few years trading places atop the world rankings.
The 26-year-old Bilodeau was the gold medallist four years ago in Vancouver. But Kingsbury, 21, was the reigning world champion.
"It means a lot," Kingsbury said of his silver medal. "I did a great run, just a little mistake. Alex totally deserved it [and] I'm super proud of myself to have the silver medal."
The gold and silver bookends a very successful week of freestyle skiing for Canada at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park in Sochi.
Sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe took gold and silver in the women’s final on Saturday night, clasping hands and fighting back tears as their parents screamed from the stands. On Monday, it was Bilodeau's family doing the crying and celebrating, with his parents and his brother Frederic in attendance, cheering him on.
"Mikaël is in my mind when I ski but my brother is in my mind all the time," Bilodeau said.
The two brothers embraced near the finish line after the event ended.
Although he was favoured to medal, the day got off to a rough start for Bilodeau. At one point he sat in eighth place, barely passing the cutoff to move on to the next round. But he found his game in subsequent rounds before saving his best performance for the final.
His last run was awarded the highest score of 26.31, but there was still one skier to come — his teammate and rival, Mikaël Kingsbury.
Kingsbury performed a solid run in his final run. But his score of 24.71 was not enough, and he had to settle for the silver.