ROSA KHUTOR, Russia, February 10 (R-Sport) – Canada’s Alexandre Bilodeau became the first athlete ever to retain an Olympic moguls skiing title Monday, seeing off his old rival Mikael Kingsbury in spectacular style.
Bilodeau’s winning score was a fearsome 26.31 as he landed two full twists on each jump and skied the moguls with knees almost glued together. Kingsbury failed to match that with a 24.71, just edging Alexander Smyshlyaev, whose score of 24.34 won Russia its first moguls medal for 20 years and denied Canada a podium sweep.
Bilodeau’s win at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park completes a golden double for Canada, and indeed Quebec, in moguls after Justine Dufour-Lapointe won the women’s event Saturday, with her sister Chloe taking the silver.
Despite Smyshlyaev's brave and unexpected charge to the podium, the result confirms Bilodeau and Kingsbury at the peak of moguls skiing - no other athlete has won any elite-level contest for almost a year.
The Russian challenger, who had never before won a major medal, came painfully close to silver, outdoing Kingsbury on the turns but yielding almost a full point to him in the air component. Smyshlyaev was assured of a medal when penultimate skier Marc-Antoine Gagnon of Canada was placed below him to a roar from the passionate home fans.
Australia’s Dale Begg-Smith the 2006 Olympic champion and 2010 silver medalist, failed to reach the final earlier in the day and immediately announced his retirement. Begg-Smith had already come out of three years’ away from the sport to compete in Sochi.
In moguls skiing, athletes are assessed by judges on their skill in turning around snow hillocks, or moguls, the marks for which makes up half the score. The rest comes from their tricks on the course’s two jumps, and the time of the run.
Monday marked the first time a men's Olympic moguls competition had featured three stages of finals, gradually whittling a field of 24 first down to 12 and then six for a medals shootout.
Updates with detail, background, minor edits