CALGARY - Watching American Hannah Kearney put together 12 straight moguls wins has inspired Canadian sensation Mikael Kingsbury to do a little streaking of his own.
Kingsbury, at the tender age of 19, continued his World Cup dominance Saturday afternoon at Canada Olympic Park, claiming his fifth straight top-of-the-podium finish, while Kearney extended her streak to a dozen on the women’s side.
Kingsbury, a native of Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, Que., is still kind of shocked at just how dominant he’s been.
“If someone had told me you will win, at the beginning of the year, the five world cups, I wouldn’t believe it,” Kingsbury said after his winning 24.30 score in the super-final put him ahead of American skier Jeremy Cota and gave him a World Cup win in Calgary for the second-straight year. “Right now, my skiing is going so great. I don’t miss any runs, so I want to continue like that all season.”
With American Jeremy Bloom’s record of six straight wins squarely in his sights, Kingsbury welcomes the pressure.
“I like the fact to be the guy to beat. I like this pressure,” Kingsbury said. “For me, it’s not like a big pressure. It’s just fun. I love what I do, so I’m just having fun.”
Right now, winning is the expectation when Kingsbury stands at the top of the hill, but there’s a strong men’s contingent looking to unseat the youngster, so getting anywhere close to Kearney will be a tough task.
“The guys are pretty strong right now behind me,” Kingsbury said. “I need to ski at the top of my shape every day to win. It’ll be hard, but it’s possible (to win 12 in a row).”
With a 24.82 score in the super-final, Kearney staved off a charge from 17-year-old Montreal native Justine Dufour-Lapointe, who scored 23.11 and has now finish second to Kearney in four-straight races this season.
“I think it’s just going to come,” Dufour-Lapointe said of her search for the top of the podium. “I’m still young and it’s my second year on the World Cup (circuit). I think I just need more experience. I’m not stressed about that. It will come.”
Kearney, the Norwich, Vt. skier who won gold at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, is in an obvious groove and twelve in a row has a nice ring to it.
“It sounds lovely,” Kearney said.
“I’m focused on today, so it means I’ve won today and that’s the most important thing to me,” she added. “Next week, I’ll focus on that victory.”
Canadian Audrey Robichaud also qualified for the four-skier super-final, but she was relegated to fourth, behind American K.C. Oakley.
The American team claimed four of a possible six medals on the day, with Kearney and Oakley finishing on the podium for the women, and Cota claiming silver for the men.
But a damper was put on the festivities when Sho Kashima caught an edge just before the final jump and crumpled in pain. He was able to ski down on one leg to claim bronze, thanks to Japan’s Sho Endo falling and coming away with no score, but it didn’t look good for Kashima afterward, as he was carried to the podium with his right leg in a brace.
“That’s not nice to see that because he was having such a great season this year,” Kingsbury said. “He was third in the world and another podium today and he got injured. That’s pretty bad.”
Kearney knows knee injuries are a staple of skiing, but the Americans have been relatively healthy this season — until now.
“Poor Sho. That’s his second injury and you hate to see it,” Kearney said.