Mikael Kingsbury dominates men's moguls to win gold
In a dramatic and inconsistent men’s moguls final, Mikael Kingsbury delivered excellence. Consistency was the key to winning gold for Kingsbury, who finished with a score of 86.63. Australia’s Matt Graham finished in second, and Japan’s Daichi Hara captured the bronze medal.
The second run of the final saw three medal favorites not finish their run. South Korean Jae Woo Choi was the first to crash. He had too much speed going into the second jump. As he entered the air and grabbed his ski, he went off-line and crashed down into the moguls. He was able to eventually get up and walk away, but he looked especially disappointed in front of his home crowd.
Japan's Sho Endo was ranked fifth in the world coming into the Olympics. It was easy to tell why after his first run, where he finished with the top score of 82.72. However, his second run turned to disaster off the top jump. He landed off-balance, causing him to lose his line and skid over multiple moguls until coming to a stop.
Countryman Ikuma Horishima also crashed in the second run. He was the reigning World Cup champion and was considered the biggest threat to gold-medal favorite Mikael Kingsbury.
Entering competition, Kingsbury was the heavy favorite to win the event. On a day full of big-name crashes, Kingsbury stayed in contention through the first two final runs. He entered the third run as the second-to-last skier.
None of the starters before him put together a spectacular run, leaving the door open for Kingsbury. The favorite completed a clean and fast final run. He crossed the finish line in 24.83 seconds, the fastest time of the day. Kingsbury was rewarded with the highest score in any of the three elimination rounds, an 86.63.
"Olympic gold medalist" was the one title missing from the Canadian’s resume. In 2014, he finished as the Sochi silver medalist. He had won six of seven World Cup competitions this season. Canada has now won three straight Olympic golds in the event.
"I've dreamed about this since I was eight years old," Kingsbury said. "I just realized my dream today and it's the best day of my life."
He added, "For the rest of my life I will be Olympic champion."
Graham came into competition ranked number three in the World. His silver medal was a dream come true.
"It's amazing. This has been a super fun night and what I've dreamed of as a kid," the 23-year-old said.
Hara's bronze medal makes him the first Asian athlete to win an Olympic medal in men's moguls.Hara's medal was a bit of a suprirse, but the Japanese skier took advanatage of the crashes and put down a clean run.
"I'm so happy because this is my first podium and I didn't get a podium at the World Cup," Hara said.
One feel-good story came to an end in the first run of the final. Kingsbury’s countryman, Philippe Marquis, tore his ACL just a month before the Olympics. He decided to fight through the pain instead of opting for surgery. He qualified for the final in eighth place. In his first and only run, he landed hard off the first jump. He proceeded to take a few hard hits off the bumps. It proved to be too much, especially for someone with a torn ACL, and he lost control. He avoided an all-out crash but could not finish the run.
Americans Troy Murphy, Brad Wilson and Casey Andringa all made the final. Murphy and Wilson exited early in the first run.
Andringa was considered a long-shot by many to even ski at the Olympics. He was originally left off the U.S. moguls ski team and had 11 skiers in front of him.
Today, he was the last American standing. He delivered two clean runs to advance to the final round. It seemed like the stars were aligning for Andringa to possibly medal until he landed his second jump too hard. Even though he was able to recover, it wasn’t the flawless run he needed to contend for a medal. Still, the American can walk away proud as he finished fifth overall after entering the Olympics 19th in the standings.
Afterwards he reflected, "I knew that if I wanted to get on the podium I was gonna have to land that trick right there. So I said, 'Screw it, I'm gonna go for it'. I gave it my 100 percent — there was nothing more for me to do out there."