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Throwback: Bilodeau beats great rival Kingsbury to retain moguls title in Sochi

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 10: (FRANCE OUT) Alex Bilodeau of Canada takes 1st place, Mikael Kingsbury of Canada takes 2nd place during the Freestyle Skiing Men's Moguls at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on February 10, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Christophe Pallot/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)

Competing neck and neck

 

February 10th, 2014

Alexandre Bilodeau had become a star of Canadian sport when he won the country’s first home gold medal at an Olympic Winter Games with his freestyle moguls victory at Vancouver 2010.

But by the time of Sochi 2014, a young pretender had arrived to try and take his crown.

Fellow Canadian Mikael Kingsbury was five years younger than Bilodeau and pushed him all the way in the run-up to the Sochi Games.

Kingsbury won the first three events of the 2013/14 season, with Bilodeau second in all of them – but the latter fought back to claim the next three, moving ahead of his rival in the overall standings.

 

Showdown under conditions far from perfect

So the scene was certainly set for a thrilling moguls contest at Sochi 2014 – even if the course was not.

With temperatures reaching the mid-40s, the surface at the Rhosa Khutor Extreme Park was slush rather than fine powder, causing many of the competitors to fall or veer off course.

The two Canadians were certainly not at their best either, with Bilodeau almost landing on his backside after his first jump in the preliminary round and Kingsbury recording one of the slowest times.

In the medal round, Bioldeau went out fourth, and showed the class and form that had won him gold in Vancouver four years earlier. He beautifully navigated the mounds and thrilled the crowds over the two jumps.

Kingsbury was next up, but got nowhere near to his great rival. His knees separated midway through his run and his arms were raised as he crossed the line.

His score of 24.71 was a full point behind Bilodeau’s, leaving him with the silver medal, while Russia’s Alexander Smyshlyaev took bronze.

Retaining Gold

 

Bioldeau had become the first freestyle skier to retain an Olympic title and he raised one finger to the air during the flower ceremony: number one.

That season, Kingsbury fought back from his Sochi disappointment to win the overall World Cup freestyle and moguls titles, although, fittingly, Bilodeau won the final race, saying it was “a real honour to have my last run against the best in the world.”

After that, he retired. Perhaps surprisingly, for someone who had excelled at such a daredevil sport, he decided to go to University and study accountancy.

 

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