Mikaël Kingsbury is finally king of the Olympic hill
With his parents' help, Canadian moguls star puts the final jewel in his crown
By Devin Heroux, CBC Sports
Just as Mikaël Kingsbury settled in to make his third and final run of the men's moguls final at Bokwang Phoenix Park ski hill Monday night, the snow started to swirl. It created a dreamlike, wintry wonderland.
It had been Kingsbury's lifelong dream to become an Olympic champion. Along the way, the 25-year-old from Deux-Montagnes, Que., had collected an all-time record 48 World Cup moguls wins, along with a pair of world titles and an Olympic silver in 2014. But he still needed that gold medal.
Pushing out of the start area, Kingsbury carved through the moguls masterfully, like he has so many times in his career. He cut through the snow and wind to execute his dazzling jumps. When he crossed the finish line, he let out a triumphant scream. He knew.
The scoreboard confirmed it: 86.63 — good enough for first place with one skier to go.
Watch Kingsbury's final run:
And when Daichi Hara, the Japanese athlete who followed him, posted a score of 82.19, it was official.
"All the stress and pressure went away," Kingsbury said. "I've dreamed about that day a million times. And last night. It's unbelievable. I'll be an Olympic champion for the rest of my life."
Kingsbury saved his best run for last. In fact, all day he thought about what his three runs might look like and was determined to learn something from each one.
After the first run, he sat in fourth place. After the second run, he moved into second. Then, when it mattered most, he catapulted into first.
"There was a lot of pressure on my shoulders, and I'm so proud of how I handled that," Kingsbury said. "It was crazy pressure."
Watch Kingsbury explain his game plan:
Tears of joy
Just before his last run, Kingsbury's father, Robert, closed his eyes and clasped his hands together at the bottom of the hill. His mom, Julie, could barely watch.
But once their son crossed the line, they also knew. They went crazy. It was a celebration a lifetime in the making.
"I'm happy that he was so happy that he was able to achieve his dream. I'm so grateful for that," Julie said with tears in her eyes.
Robert beamed with pride as he tried to find words to describe what it all meant.
"I was hoping that this was his moment. He deserves it so much. It was the only thing missing in his career and now he has it."
Robert and Julie Kingsbury.
“This is a fairytale” says Julie. pic.twitter.com/k7DKAJJyHd
Robert and Julie jumped over the fencing surrounding the base of the hill and raced to their son. They hugged for what seemed like an eternity, with Mikaël draped in a Canadian flag.
"We didn't talk. We hugged forever," Julie said. "And then I said, 'I love you.''
The setting was perfect.
"It's like we're dreaming. Look at the snow. I'm not cold," Julie said. "It's something magical tonight. It's a fairy tale."
'I've never been so nervous in my life'
Robert says they followed the same ritual and schedule they do before every World Cup race. They talked to Mikaël the day before. They followed their same small details. They got the same result they usually do at World Cups.
"That was such big pressure. He tried to be calm. But we were nervous."
Mikaël was too. The entire day, his thoughts bounced around about how the race was going to go. In one moment he would visualize a perfect race. The next minute he would imagine making mistakes.
"I thought about the gold all morning and I was super nervous," he said. "I think I'll have grey hair tonight because I've never been so nervous in my life. But once I clipped my skis on and I got into my ski character, then I felt good."
Click on the video below to view highlights from the final:
When Kingsbury was 10 years old, he put the Olympic rings above his bed and wrote "I will win." He's looked at that message for the past 15 years.
Today, the king of moguls finally got his crowning moment, with his parents there to see him climb to the top of the podium.
"They've been so supportive of all my ideas since I was a kid. To win in front of them and see their smiles... that was very emotional," Kingsbury said, fighting back tears. "When you're standing on the podium and you see your parents in the front row... it's unbelievable."