February 12, 2018 / 3:38 PM / 7 months ago

Snowboarding: Kingsbury battles nerves to seal the deal

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Mikael Kingsbury, described by rival Matt Graham as the greatest mogul skier in history, had achieved almost everything in his illustrious career.

Freestyle Skiing – Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics – Men’s Moguls Final – Phoenix Snow Park – Pyeongchang, South Korea – February 12, 2018 - Mikael Kingsbury of Canada reacts after winning the gold medal. REUTERS/Mike Blake

But there was one important accolade missing.

Since claiming a silver medal in Sochi four years ago, the Canadian has been on a path seemingly destined for Olympic gold in Pyeongchang.

He is the all-time leader in moguls skiing victories and his streak of 13 consecutive World Cup wins is the most in history, but this Olympic gold was the medal he has craved since losing out to compatriot Alex Bilodeau in 2014.

Now, he has added an Olympic gold to his resume, with a spectacular final run in Monday’s final.

He made it look simple but Kingsbury admitted he had been worried.

“I was super nervous,” Kingsbury told reporters.

“I have never been nervous like that in my life. However, when I clip my skis on and get in my ski character then I feel good. I was a little bit nervous in my first run as it is the Olympic games and you don’t want to miss your first run. I was a bit stiff.”

Kingsbury said he had never felt pressure like it, with the whole moguls world expecting him to deliver on the biggest stage.

“There was a lot of pressure on my shoulders and I am so proud of the way I managed the pressure,” he said. “There was so much pressure, it was crazy.

“All day I was thinking good stuff, negative stuff but then once I clipped my goggles on I was just focused on just doing my job.”

As he crossed the finishing line, Kingsbury let out a huge scream that could be heard in the grandstand despite the howling wind and snow swirling around the moguls piste.

“You dream about that moment all your life,” said Kingsbury as his voice began to break.

“You land the bottom air and then you have eight bumps to ski and you see the finish line coming and you know you haven’t made any mistakes.”

“When I crossed the finish line then all the stress and the pressure and thinking about these games since Sochi, I was thinking about this as I crossed the finish line and then the nerves went away.”

Kingsbury’s victory ensured it was the third Olympics in a row that a Canadian man has topped the moguls podium.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant, editing by Ed Osmond

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