In October, Mikaël Kingsbury had prepared for the season by drawing an analogy from one of his favorite sports, baseball: “You have to be ready to be thrown curved balls. ”
Three months later, the Olympic freestyle skiing gold medalist has to revise his forecast slightly. “It is no longer curved balls, but butterfly balls …”, he confided to Press Thursday morning.
Even before the cancellation of numerous events and the upheaval of the calendar, the hard worker from Deux-Montagnes had to deal with the first injury of his career. On November 29, he fractured two dorsal vertebrae after a bad landing during World Cup training in Ruka, Finland.
Less than two months later, Kingsbury is already preparing for his return. Unless there is a turnaround, he will line up for the two events scheduled for February 4 and 5 in Deer Valley.
The two-time world champion has just completed a training camp with the Canadian team in Val-Saint-Côme, where he spent 10 days on the moguls without experiencing significant pain.
On Saturday, he will fly to Calgary, where he will attend another weeklong camp before heading to Utah. A single and a duel are on the program.
Things must go well [à Calgary], but the way it went in Val-Saint-Côme, I’m hopeful to be in the starting gate in Deer Valley.
Six weeks straight after his injury, Kingbury had x-rays which showed that the T4 and T5 vertebrae had come together perfectly, a signal that he could put the skis back on.
After three very smooth days on the flat in Saint-Sauveur and Val-Saint-Côme, it gradually picked up on the bumps, initially at 40% of its usual speed. He returned to the jumps after a few days, without ever forcing the note.
“I took back my touch, the absorption, the timing. It was fun to do that; I had never taken my time in a camp to redo the basics so much. Every day, I had a small goal that I ticked off. ”
Most important: “I hardly felt anything behind my back. ”
Kingsbury has yet to put all the gum up, especially in the vaults. He is counting on the six days planned in Calgary to achieve this. “We worked more on my turns in the bumps, which is probably the most important. The jumps are like my strength. It worries me a little less. ”
On Monday, the 28-year-old athlete posted on his networks a video where he performs a “double cork 720 truck driver”, showing that he is not so far from his best level in the air.
In addition to the initial stage at Ruka, Kingsbury missed two races in Sweden, so much so that he is 172 points behind the two comeneurs, Swede Ludvig Fjällström and Japanese Ikuma Horishima.
With many events canceled due to the pandemic, the man with the nine consecutive crystal globes finds that his goal of catching up will be very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. A win equals 100 points, a second place is 80.
Again Thursday, the International Ski Federation announced the cancellation of the stopover in Tazawako, Japan, scheduled for March 6 and 7.
“My objective will be to be the one who makes the most points from the moment of my return and until the end of the season,” said the Quebecer, who was riding a wave of 107 starts in a row before his injury. . “We’ll see where it takes me. ”
Kingsbury also learned with disappointment of the abortion of the planned World Championships in Calgary at the end of February, which were to replace those planned on the Olympic track in Beijing.
“It’s boring because my motivation to come back was to tell myself that this year was pretty much the only title I could go for. ”
The two-time gold medalist from Deer Valley in 2019 was getting realistic. “It’s not like my expectations are high. I also knew that it would be complicated to organize. I can’t do anything about it. It just makes sure that I’m going to be world champion two more years. This is not a problem. ”
For now, Kingsbury just wants to be able to settle at the top of the demanding Deer Valley course on February 4 without feeling the slightest fear for his back.
“It will be doable to win, yes, but I don’t put pressure on myself,” assured the skier with 63 victories. “I’ve worked hard over the past few weeks to get back on track, to be able to be competitive. I’m not coming back to finish either 10e or 20e. ”
One thing is certain, he will still be aiming for the home run.