RUKA, Finland - Canadian moguls star Mikael Kingsbury spent a good portion of his summer testing out new tricks to unleash during competitions.
He didn't need them in the season-opening World Cup.
Kingsbury, the defending Olympic champion, used a more typical trick package on Saturday to win the gold medal in his 100th career World Cup start.
“The jumps were pretty good here, it would have been possible to do maybe one or two new tricks but since it's the beginning of the season, I really wanted to start well,” Kingsbury said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press. “I just went with something I've done in the past that's worked out for me - I call it my classic run - and I still had the hardest trick package of the day.
“And now that I have the momentum, I won the first event and I know there's going to be a lot of opportunities to try new tricks.”
The 27-year-old Kingsbury from Deux-Montagnes, Que., scored 90.80 on his second run to secure first place.
Ikuma Horishima of Japan was second with 87.39 while Sweden's Walter Wallberg placed third with 86.83. Canada's Kerrian Chunlaud was sixth.
Saturday's result gave Kingsbury his 82nd World Cup medal overall - and 57th gold. He also has four World Championship titles and an Olympic silver to go along with his gold from Pyeongchang in 2018.
Kingsbury, who has won eight straight Crystal Globes as the overall leader at the end of the moguls season, was in second place after the first run Saturday - 0.46 points behind Wallbert - but rebounded by putting down a solid second score.
“I try to learn from every run,” Kingsbury said. “I did some tiny little bobble in the middle but my time was good and I knew I had a lot of gas left in the tank to ski faster.
“I was pretty close to Walter. ... and I knew I had another gear to push and get above 87 (points) but I needed to be perfect because the guys weren't making many mistakes today.”
Scores from the first final set up the order for the second run, meaning Kingsbury went down the course second to last followed by Wallberg.
“I was pretty excited to go and put the pressure on Walter. It was his first time going last,” Kingsbury said. “So yeah, I pretty much went all in. I tried to put all my cards on the table and do the best run I could on that course and it worked out.
“Your strategy is the best when you go last because you know every score but it's kinda fun to put pressure on someone else. And I did - (Wallberg) told me at the end: 'I heard your score, 90 and I was like oh my god what am I going to do?' - so it's kinda cool to have the chance to do that. In the past there's been lots of guys who have put pressure on me and I got to do that today.”
Kingsbury was first in qualification, laying down a score of 84.44, to set the tone for the day.
Canadian Justine Dufour-Lapointe was sixth in the women's final.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2019.