Kings­bury hits podium again

Kings­bury keeps podium streak alive in World Cup moguls with sil­ver medal

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - FRONT PAGE - VICKI HALL vhall@post­media.com

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.”

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