It looks like there will be a couple more Olympic medals on display this summer up on the Blackcomb Glacier.
Alex Bilodeau repeated as men’s moguls champion on Monday (Feb. 10) in a one-two finish with fellow Canadian Mikael Kingsbury, giving Canada four of a possible six medals from mogul competition after Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe had their own gold-silver finish on Saturday (Feb. 8).
Bilodeau and Kingsbury both spend their summers in Whistler coaching with Momentum Ski Camps. (For more on that see page 23.)
The result saw Canada rocket to the top of the medal table at the end of Day 3 from Sochi, holding three gold, three silver and one bronze.
Bilodeau saved his best stuff for last on Monday, qualifying in eighth position out of the first, 20-man final, then making it to the final six in third place behind Kingsbury and fellow Canadian Marc-Antoine Gagnon.
But the 26-year-old had a near-flawless run in the six-man superfinal, earning a score of 26.31 to take the repeat victory ahead of world champion Kingsbury (24.71). Gagnon settled for fourth behind Russia’s Alexandr Smyshlyaev.
Bilodeau became the first athlete to repeat as Olympic champ in any freestyle skiing discipline. “I knew I had to put the pressure on that young kid (Kingsbury) who’s so good,” Bilodeau told CBC after the win. “I went for the best run of my career.”
Canada’s Phil Marquis finished in eighth spot. Australia’s Dale Begg-Smith, a medallist at the past two Olympics who grew up skiing in Whistler, was eliminated in the qualifying round, finishing 25th.
McMorris on podium
Mark McMorris earned Canada’s first medal of the Games on Saturday, riding through the pain of a broken rib to take bronze in the Olympic debut of men’s snowboard slopestyle. While teammates Sebastien Toutant and Maxence Parrot had earned direct entry into the final, McMorris had to emerge from a tense semifinal to ride in the medal round.
McMorris was early on the start list for the final and slid into a medal position on his second of two runs, then had to wait and watch 10 other riders while hoping his score of 88.75 was enough for the podium. U.S. rider Sage Kotsenburg (93.50) captured gold and Norway’s Staale Sandbech grabbed silver, while Parrot placed fifth and Toutant finished ninth.
In the women’s event Sunday (Feb. 9), world champ Spencer O’Brien of Courtenay couldn’t stick the landing off the course’s second jump on either of her two runs and wound up 12th. Whistler resident Jenna Blasman, who competed with a broken wrist, did not advance to the final and finished 19th overall.
No luck for alpine team
Canada’s alpine team was shut out in the first two races of the Games, and endured a scary moment when Marie-Michele Gagnon was injured in the slalom portion of Monday’s (Feb. 10) women’s super combined.
The alpine schedule kicked off with the men’s downhill on Sunday (Feb. 9), but the Canadian Cowboys were unable to threaten the podium. Erik Guay’s 10th-place finish was the top result for the team, while Ben Thomsen wound up 19th, Jan Hudec finished 21st and Whistler Mountain Ski Club product Manuel Osborne-Paradis placed 25th.
“All in all, I was happy with my run all the way down, I mean there were little mistakes but nothing big,” said Osborne-Paradis. “I was just nowhere near fast, so not really sure what happened.”
The downhill produced a bit of a surprise podium, as Austria’s Matthias Mayer took gold, Italy’s Christof Innerhofer earned silver and Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud grabbed bronze. The Canadian men’s speed team will get another shot at the medals in the super-G on Sunday (Feb. 16), which will see Whistler’s Morgan Pridy make his Olympic debut.
Gagnon was considered a favourite in Monday’s combined after winning the season’s lone World Cup race in the discipline last month. She sat 21st after the downhill run and was looking to charge up the leaderboard on the slalom leg, but straddled a gate, fell hard and came up clutching her arm and calling for help. She was taken to hospital for assessment and appears to be OK for her remaining races at Rosa Khutor.
“Thanks for all the concerns, I just dislocated my shoulder and bruised my left quad… Should be ready to go for the tech events!” Gagnon later posted to her Twitter account.
The women’s downhill (Feb. 12), men’s combined (Feb. 14) and women’s super-G (Feb. 15) are also coming up this week.