The reigning Olympic moguls champion is taking a break, leaving the hill open for the next big star.
Mikael Kingsbury has slid right in there, although it’s not like Alex Bilodeau was completely standing in his way.
A year ago at Canada Olympic Park, Kingsbury raced to his second World Cup gold medal, beating out Bilodeau by a fraction of points.
With Bilodeau taking this season off, the 19-year-old phenom has become dominant, winning all four moguls events.
The next freestyle star from Quebec will try to make it five straight Saturday at COP.
“We’ve been so blessed with these young kids coming through,” Canadian Freestyle Ski Association CEO Peter Judge said.
“You get these kids who you think are a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
“You get a Jean-Luc (Brassard), then an Alex. It’s amazing to see Mik come through and have that success.”
Even at 19 and just two years on the national team, the Deux-Montagnes native is giving Canada great hope for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The team lost Jenn Heil to retirement last year, but there is a strong next generation emerging and Kingsbury is the undisputed leader.
“To show that kind of poise and intelligence at such a young age is encouraging,” Judge said.
“It means they have a lot career ahead of them and they clearly understand the rules of the game and how to play them.
“You would expect a kid of that age there would be a lot of ways it would blow up. He goes and wins the first one and he could get overconfident.
“Week after week, he’s shown the poise and maturity of a 30-year-old.”
There are 19 Canadians competing in the moguls Saturday at COP, and there is a good chance of multiple medals from the homegrown athletes.
On the aerials side, which concludes Sunday, there are only two competitors due to injuries, such as the season-ending one to Calgary product Warren Shouldice (concussion).
Still, there is a medal hopeful.
Olivier Rochon has returned from a year off due to a team suspension to pick up a silver two weeks ago at a World Cup in Mont Gabriel, Que.
It was Rochon’s first event in nearly two years, but he gained an appreciation during his time away. Now he’s focused on achieving his potential.
“I came back more focused and ready to be better,” the 22-year-old said.
“When I stopped for a year, it was all I was doing my entire life. I was a gymnast before. After that, I trained in aerials.
“I got better and more mature.”