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Mikael Kingsbury skies for world title to cap stellar moguls season

Kingsbury skies for world title to cap season

Mikael Kingsbury is coming in hot.

The 24-year-old moguls star from Deux-Montagnes, Que., heads into the world championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain, with seven World Cup wins in a row.

A world title would put an exclamation mark on a stellar season in which Kingsbury ran away with his sixth career crystal globe as the men's World Cup moguls champion.

Kingsbury leads a deep Canadian team into Wednesday's single moguls event, followed by the dual moguls races Thursday.

"This year I've been good performing weekend after weekend, but this is the event that everybody is waiting for," Kingsbury said.

"I'm exactly where I want to be right now. I've been skiing well lately. I've peaked right now before world championship, so I think I just need to focus on skiing my best, keep it complicated with the tricks, but keep it simple in my head."

Kingsbury had an up-and-down start to his season finishing off the podium in Lake Placid, N.Y., and placing second in Calgary where he'd won six previous years.

But he reclaimed the top of the podium in Deer Valley, Utah, to start February and didn't step off it. He also won gold at a World Cup and Olympic test event in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Kingsbury finished 446 points ahead of season runner-up Benjamin Cavet of France.

"This season was a little bit of a process," Kingsbury said. "It clicked at Deer Valley. I tried to think not about the result, but more about the little processes I need to do."

The moguls team have made themselves a hard act to follow at the biannual world freestyle ski championships.

Kingsbury, Philippe Marquis of Quebec City and Marc-Antoine Gagnon of Terrebone, Que., blanketed the men's dual moguls podium in that order two years ago in Austria. Kingsbury also took silver in single moguls.

Montreal's Justine Dufour-Lapointe won gold and silver in women's single and dual moguls respectively.

They're looking to add more medals to their coffers in Sierra Nevada.

Dufour-Lapointe is joined on the women's team by sisters Chloe and Maxime, Andi Naude of Penticton, B.C., and Audrey Robichaud of Quebec City. Justine Dufour-Lapointe, Naude and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe ranked third to fifth in the world this season.

Quebec City's Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh and Laurent Dumais round out the men's squad.

The world championships are a dress rehearsal for next year's Winter Olympics as the athletes must perform on demand in a single, large event. Dual moguls isn't on the Olympic program.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe is the reigning Olympic champion and sister Chloe a silver medallist in women's moguls. Kingsbury took silver in men's moguls in 2014 behind teammate Alex Bilodeau, who has since retired.

"The world championship is one of the premiere events that we have this year," said Marc-Andre Morneau, the high-performance director of Freestyle Canada. "It comes every two years, so it's a little bit more precious than a normal World Cup.

"This is not the Olympic course. We cannot really compare 100 per cent because it's not the Olympic course, but we can really simulate the pressure and performance. In that sense, it's really an important event for the team."

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press