INAWASHIRO, JPN, 24 FEB 3013 – On a wintery day, with cold temperatures and sun off-set by the occasional bout of gusty wind, the two-day FIS Freestyle World Cup moguls event in Japan wrapped up today with the dual moguls competition taking place on the stunning Inawashiro course.
Miki Ito (JPN) was able to score some redemption for the host Japanese team by winning the ladies' event, while Bradley Wilson capped the best weekend of his skiing career by winning the men's event after placing 2nd in the previous day's single moguls competition.
Ito was able to battle to her first World Cup win on the same course on which she placed 2nd at the 2009 World Championships, beating young American Mikaela Matthews in the super final head-to-head showdown. On her way to claiming 2nd place, Matthews took down her teammate and current World Cup moguls leader Hannah Kearney in a thrilling semi-finals heat. Ito, to her credit, set up today's super finals matchup by eliminating the holder of the yellow bib at the start of the day, Justine Dufour-Lapointe (CAN).
Dufour-Lapointe finished in 8th place by going out in the quarter-final round, while Kearney was able to win her small final heat and claim 3rd place on the day. The American's performance was enough to move her back ahead of the Canadian Dufour-Lapointe and into the yellow bib, although only by the slimmest of margins – with two events left in the World Cup season, Kearney leads Dufour-Lapointe by 513 – 510 points.
The men's side also saw a first-time World Cup victor, as 20 year old Bradley Wilson put an exclamation point on what was an already excellent weekend for the young American. With his 2nd place on Saturday and victory on Sunday, Wilson tripled his World Cup podium count in the span of two days.
He did so in impressive fashion, beating both the current freestyle overall leader Mikael Kingsbury (CAN) and 2010 Olympic champion and reigning dual moguls World Champion Alex Bilodeau (CAN) on his way to victory. Bilodeau, however, is having a quietly spectacular comeback season after taking last year off to pursue his studies. The Canadian veteran sits behind only his teammate Kingsbury on the moguls overall rankings and the freestyle overall rankings, and his two podiums on the weekend at Inawashiro gives him now seven in the 2012-13 season.
Though Kingsbury finished in 5th place, he still sits comfortably atop both the moguls and freestyle overall rankings, and looks to be a safe bet to finish as the most successful skier on the FIS Freestyle World Cup tour for the second straight season.