Preview Men's moguls final is Canadian Mikael Kingsbury's to lose

25-year-old's illustrious resume missing only an Olympic gold medal

Men's moguls final is Canadian Mikael Kingsbury's to lose
Mikael Kingsbury heads into the men's moguls final as the clear favourite. © Kevin Light/CBC Sports

By Chicco Nacion, CBC Sports

A night after Justine Dufour-Lapointe claimed silver in the women's moguls competition, Mikael Kingsbury hopes to do one better in the men's competition.

The Deux-Montagnes, Que., native has the most World Cup wins in history — 48 — and six Crystal Globes as the overall season champion.

He even has a silver medal, from the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, after finishing behind compatriot Alex Bilodeau.

What's missing is Olympic gold.

"He's one of the most successful athletes of all-time. He's missing one title. So you know what he's aiming for and I know that's what he's focused on," said 2006 Olympic moguls champion and CBC analyst Jennifer Heil ahead of Monday's final (7 a.m. ET).

Click on the video below to hear Kingsbury speak about his calm demeanour heading into the Games:

Kingsbury qualifyied with the top score and Heil said his performance shows exactly why he's the best in the world.

"He just has a command for the performance and all the tools," Heil said. "He's in complete control. If he wants to go a little bit faster, no problem. If he wants to go a little bit slower, no problem. He can make these adjustments in a very technical sport, which most people don't have that type of control."

Trick up his sleeve

The scary thing for opponents is that Kingsbury has a trick up his sleeve if necessary. In the summer of 2016, he worked on mastering the Cork 1440, which involves a partial back flip with a quadruple twist.

Kingsbury would be the first competitor to land it in Olympic competition and he says "it takes balls to try it." 

"It was low-key for him. He downgraded his jumps," Heil said. "He was in control, in the zone — he did what we had to do. There's probably three more gears than what we saw in the first qualification."

Top threats

According to Heil , Japan's Ikuma Horishima and Kazakhstan's Dmitriy Reiherd are Kingsbury's top threats.

Horishima ended the Canadian's streak of 13 consecutive World Cup wins last month, but needed a near-perfect score of 93.88 to do it.

Heil said Horishima has trouble bringing that same version to each competition and could struggle on the bigger moguls on the Olympic course, as he did in qualifications. 

"He's the only one that has legitimately ever beat him ... he bobbled a little bit compared to Mik," she said. "He doesn't have the experience and hasn't been consistent at all. When he has beat Mik, it's been on easier courses."

On the other hand, Reiherd has been consistent but Heil doesn't believe he has enough in his arsenal to surpass the Canadian.

"He's shooting for second place. He needs to do his best run to get second and be happy with that. He would only beat Mik, if he made a big mistake," Heil said.

Marquis' courageous effort

Philippe Marquis is the only other Canadian to directly make the final, despite being just one month removed from a torn ACL. Heil said she noticed no signs of Marquis holding back and she said it's exactly what he needs to do in order to have any shot at the podium.

She applauded him for his mental fortitude, and Marquis even said making it to the bottom was a "miracle."

While it was one of the best runs Heil said she has seen from Marquis this season, the Quebec City native is limited and that was evident during the second jump on one of his qualification runs.

"Anything is possible but a lot of it isn't in his control," Heil said. "On the bottom jump, his knee gave out. His knee could give out on any turn, on any mogul, on any jump. He has to go into the start gate knowing that could happen and still commit to it, which is extraordinary and that's what he's doing."