19-year-old Perrine Laffont wins gold in women's moguls
It was a shocking day in the women’s moguls final. France's Perrine Laffont delivered in the final round to capture gold with a score of 79.72. Canada's Justine Dufour-Lapoint won silver and Kazakhstan's Yulia Galysheva captured the bronze. The U.S. did not medal in women’s moguls for the first time since 2006. It was a disappointing night for Team USA who sent four skiers into the finals.
Weather started to become a factor as the event advanced. Snow was heaviest during the second round of the final, as visibility issues affected the racers when landing their jumps.
Justine Dufour-Lapointe was looking to become the first woman to win back-to-back gold medals in moguls. She was one of 10 skiers to advance to the final after the first qualification run. Her sister, Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, qualified for the final in the second round of qualifiers earlier in the night. The defending silver medalist had a disappointing run. She finished with a score of 70.98, 17th out of the 20 finalists.
American Morgan Schild provided the first surprise of the day. She was third after the qualification rounds and was expected to make it into the second round of the final with ease. However, she put in a sub-par performance and exited early from the final. Her form seemed loose on the turns down the hill. The judges did not miss it, and scored her a 72.23. She finished 15th overall.
Tess Johnson was the first American to ski in the final. She had a solid first run, scoring a 74.10. In the second round, she looked like she was in cruise control. Then on the second jump, she lost her balance, separating her legs when landing which led to deductions. She scored a 70.49, which was only good for 12th overall.
Keaton McCargo scored a 76.88 in the first run of the final. Her second run was also disappointing for the Americans. She lost points with separation of her legs on the turns. She scored a 75.79, which was only good enough for eighth overall.
Jaelin Kauf was fast with a time of 28.79 in her first run. Her final score of 78.73 on the first run left her to ski second-to-last in the second round. Her second run was solid, but on a day when everyone was delivering, she fell short of definitively securing a place in the final. She finished with a score of 76.03.
She had to watch the reigning gold medalist Justine Dufour-Lapointe ski after her. Justine delivered and scored a 77.48, good enough to advance to the final round. Kauf was left on the outside looking in.
In the final run, Kazakhstan's Galysheva earned a score of 77.40. Her high score was due in part to her big second jump, a forward flip, that she was able to perfectly execute. Her score held up as the round unfolded, and she captured the bronze medal. It was the first medal for Kazkhstan in freestyle skiing, men or women.
She was proud of her result, "I went from 11th, seventh, to third, so the next one will be first."
Heading into her final run, Dufour-Lapointe knew she needed a 77.40 to put herself in first. She nailed the landing of her second jump, and was rewarded a 78.56. However, she still had to watch three strong competitors finish: Australia’s Britteny Cox, France’s Perrine Laffont, and countrywoman Andi Naude.
"I thought I'd got there because I gave it my all," said the 23-year-old Canadian."
She added, "But you know what, I did everything I could and I don't have any control of my score and the score of the other girl. I was proud of me."
Next was 19-year-old Perrine Laffont, who won a silver medal for moguls at last year’s world championships. She opened with a good heli, attacking the middle line with big turns. She finished with a time of 29.36: the fastest time of the round.
"I was thinking about my family down course and all the energy that I have in me," Laffont said. "And now here I am, Olympic champion."
She added, "It's crazy. I'm just 19 and I'm Olympic champion. I have dreamed about it for a long time and I just did it."
"I'm just 19 and I'm Olympic champion. I have dreamed about it for a long time and I just did it."
Australian Britteny Cox ended up being a non-factor, finishing the final round in fourth.
All eyes turned to Andi Naude, who was in first place after the second finals run. She started with a lot of speed at the top, and it turned into too much speed. She lost control and had to stop in order to not crash into the barrier gate.
The Canadian was dissapointed, "Obviously it's not a medal and it's a bit of a heartbreak, but I'll learn from it."
In a day full of surprises, it truly was anyone’s event. Perrine captured gold, cementing her rise to the top of women’s moguls.