Moguls vet­eran Philippe Mar­quis makes re­turn

The Expositor (Brantford) - - SPORTS - DONNA SPENCER THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

CALGARY — De­fy­ing the odds to ski Olympic moguls on a pre­car­i­ous knee would be a com­pelling enough fi­nale for a ca­reer.

But Philippe Mar­quis prefers to write a dif­fer­ent clos­ing chap­ter.

The Cana­dian moguls team vet­eran com­peted in last year’s Win­ter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, mi­nus an an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment in his left knee.

In­jured in a train­ing crash a month out from the Win­ter Games, Mar­quis de­cided to have the dam­aged ACL re­moved en­tirely, so he could go to Pyeongchang.

Surgery to re­pair it would have ended his sea­son.

Blast­ing through moguls, and launch­ing and land­ing jumps, with­out a vi­tal sta­bi­liz­ing knee lig­a­ment bog­gles the mind.

Mar­quis ad­vanced out of the qual­i­fy­ing round into the top 20, how­ever, with “What ACL?” writ­ten on his ski gloves.

His knee didn’t hold up in the next round and Mar­quis did not ad­vance, but he achieved of his Olympic dream by mak­ing the im­prob­a­ble hap­pen.

“I just re­ally wanted to make it as good as I could re­gard­less of the re­sult, so I’d be an ex­am­ple and I’d make me proud on top of ev­ery­thing, and ev­ery­one watch­ing proud as well, proud that they were Cana­dian and that I was Cana­dian,” the 29-year-old from Que­bec City said.

Win­ner of 12 World Cup medals and a world cham­pi­onship silver in dual moguls in 2015, Mar­quis could have de­cided gut­ting his way to his sec­ond Win­ter Olympics was a sat­is­fy­ing way to leave his sport.

But Mar­quis com­peted for the first time since the Olympics, and sub­se­quent surgery to re­place his ACL, on Fri­day at a World Cup in Calgary.

“I’ve got my rea­sons to be back here. Some peo­ple might un­der­stand and some peo­ple might think I’m a fool,” he said.

“I felt last year ev­ery­thing went too quickly and I was out and was home with my leg in the air. It just felt wrong and that I didn’t fin­ish the cy­cle and didn’t fin­ish on my own terms. I’m a fighter and I wanted to prove to my­self I could over­come one last thing.

“I also wanted to have a goal for my re­hab. Re­hab­bing with­out a phys­i­cal goal is re­ally tough.”

The top 16 men out of 52 in Fri­day’s qual­i­fy­ing ad­vanced to the Sat­ur­day’s fi­nal. Mar­quis fell just short of the cut in 18th.

“I’ll miss fi­nals, which is some­thing that hasn’t re­ally hap­pened to me in a long time, but I’ve proud of what I’ve done, es­pe­cially with the lack of train­ing,” Mar­quis said. “That was a re­ally, re­ally good test for me.”

Team­mate and reign­ing Olympic cham­pion Mikael Kings­bury posted the top score in qual­i­fy­ing. The 26-year-old from DeuxMon­tagnes, Que., skied right be­fore Mar­quis.

“I’m proud of him,” Kings­bury said. “It was a nice lit­tle mo­ment to be again with him in the start gate. We were go­ing back-to-back.

“When I got to the bot­tom and re­ceived my score, I just turned around and started to be ner­vous again for my friend.

“It was like that at the Olympics. I was ner­vous for him, but a bit less here be­cause I saw him in train­ing.”

Kings­bury and Que­bec City’s Lau­rent Du­mais, who fin­ished ninth Fri­day, were the two Cana­dian men ad­vanc­ing out of the 11 ski­ing for the host team.

Women’s qual­i­fy­ing Sat­ur­day morn­ing will be fol­lowed by elim­i­na­tion rounds along­side the men.

Mar­quis says this sea­son will be his swan song.

“Af­ter that I’m go­ing to move on and do some­thing else,” he said. “I feel op­ti­mistic about the next chap­ter, but in the mean­time I want to push this chap­ter a few more weeks and few months.”

Kings­bury has won seven times in Calgary. He posted a score of 83.79 points at WinS­port’s Canada Olympic Park.

Aus­tralia’s Matt Gra­ham, the only man to best Kings­bury in Calgary re­cently with a win in 2017, was sec­ond with 81 points ahead of French­man Ben­jamin Cavet in third with 80.41.

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