Kingsbury hits podium again
Kingsbury keeps podium streak alive in World Cup moguls with silver medal
Kim McRae figured she had zero chance at the winning a medal after the first run at the luge world championships in Igls, Austria.
Sitting in a distant 10th place on Saturday, two-10ths of a second back of fellow Canadian Alex Gough in third, McRae did the math and declared the podium out of reach.
So McRae took a deep breath, relaxed her muscles and told herself to soak up the experience of tobogganing feet-first down a sheet of ice in the Alps against the best in the world.
Funny what happens when the pressure is gone. With nothing to lose, McRae rocked the fastest start time in the final heat and stormed to bronze with a tworun time of one minute 19.952 seconds.
“I just let the sled run and focused more on just being there on the track and enjoying the day,” she said Sunday. “And that’s when I slide the best, when I let go and let everything happen.”
With the bronze, McRae becomes only the second Canadian besides Gough to ever reach the individual podium at the luge world championships. Gough made history in 2011 with bronze in Cesana, Italy, and then won bronze again in 2013 in Whistler.
On Saturday, Gough — still a legitimate medal contender in every arc — slipped to fifth.
“I am just ecstatic,” McRae said of joining her Canadian
teammate in the record book. “It just shows the young girls on the team … that I was once in their shoes. I went through rough years, but hard work does pay off.”
McRae — a 24-year-old from Victoria and a graduate of Calgary’s National Sports School — finished in fifth place at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. But she struggled upon returning home, as many athletes do.
Suddenly, the structure of practice, training sessions and business trips was gone. Then came some family issues, and the emotional turmoil was reflected in her results, with a lone sixthplace finish her best performance of the 2014-15 season.
“I wanted to be top three,” she said. “And it’s sometimes about reining that back and being like, ‘Hey, let’s just have two decent runs and see what happens. Pull the fastest starts that I possibly can and then do what my body knows how.’”
To help with co-ordination and body awareness, McRae took up taekwondo in preparation for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. A green belt, McRae considers testing in taekwondo great practice for the focus required to win medals in luge.
“They’re sitting there, staring at you and grading you,” she said. “So you really have to block all that out and just do what you know.
“It’s the same on the track. You have to get to the start, have a blank mind and trust that your body knows what to do.”
Mikael Kingsbury is usually Mr. Automatic when it comes to winning gold on the World Cup moguls circuit.
At age 24, Kingsbury is the most decorated mogul skier in history and one of the most dominant winter athletes of his generation.
But on Saturday, Kingsbury proved he is indeed mortal with a slight bobble on his second jump — the cork 1080 — in the super final at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.
He still landed on his feet and scored a respectable 82.82 points, good enough for silver. But Australia’s Matt Graham seized gold with 84.52 points, ending Kingsbury’s winning streak in Calgary at six.
“He’s a machine,” Graham said of Kingsbury. “It’s nice to take it to him every once in a while and let people know that he is only human.”
Kingsbury, of Deux-Montagnes, Que., took great pride in standing atop the podium in Calgary for six years running.
“The streak ends at six, but it’s another podium,” Kingsbury said. “I know I didn’t do my best, but I’m still on the podium. And I know there’s still stuff to work on. There’s no panicking here.”
Australia also won gold on the women’s side with Britteny Cox scoring 82.11 points to knock off Montreal’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe (silver, 80.02 points) and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe ( bronze, 75.16 points).
“I gave and I pushed every single run I had to do today,” said Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the reigning Olympic champion. “I have no regrets, and I cannot blame me.”