The celebrated Canadian Olympic gold medallist is back.
Mikael Kingsbury, the mogul skiing champion in Pyeongchang, begins the 2018-19 World Cup season on Friday in Ruka, Finland.
Finishing at the top of the podium this weekend would give Kingsbury his 50th World Cup win — a huge milestone for the accomplished 26-year-old. He already holds the record on the all-time moguls wins list after collecting his 47th World Cup victory on Jan. 10, 2018.
A year ago, Kingsbury opened a dominant season with a win in Finland and he hopes to continue the trend.
“Starting this season well in Finland in the first event is always so important,” Kingsbury told CBC Sports. “If I start well, I kind of create momentum for the rest of this season.”
Kingsbury, from Deux-Montagnes, Que., knows a thing or two about momentum. He won his first six World Cup events last season on his way to collecting his seventh-straight Crystal Globe as the top moguls athlete on the tour.
Watch Kingsbury capture gold in Pyeongchang:
As great as last year was, Kingsbury is happy to not have the added pressure of an Olympic Games looming over him this season.
“There is pressure that comes with my position of being the favourite to win the gold medal last year,” Kingsbury said.
“It was kind of fun this summer to train and not have the focus be on one event or on one medal.”
Get to know Mikael Kingsbury:
There were a few slight bumps in the road last season. Kingsbury came second in his last two World Cup races, narrowly falling to Japanese skiier Ikuma Horishima.
Kingsbury is known as a perfectionist on the hill and is his own biggest critic when he’s not satisfied with a race.
“I’m super hard on myself,” Kingsbury said. “I’m a perfectionist and when I don’t have a good result, yes I’ll be mad, but I’ll be mad at myself.”
However, Kingsbury understands how to properly channel his anger in order to improve.
“I’m going to be mad for five to 10 minutes,” Kingsbury said. “After that, I can breathe and start thinking about what I’ve done wrong and moving on to try to bounce back for the next event.”
Fellow Canadians Justine Dufour-Lapointe and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe are also set to compete in Finland this weekend.
Justine was the silver medallist in the women’s event in Pyeongchang after her and Chloe memorably went one-two at the Sochi Games in 2014.
CBC Sports will stream live coverage of the freestyle skiing World Cup from Ruka on Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET.