After winning Olympic gold in Pyeongchang, Canadian freestyle skier Mikael Kingsbury took a step down on the podium in his return to competition on Friday.
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The 25-year-old scored 89.27 to finish 1.76 points behind hometown favourite Ikuma Horishima who took first with 91.03 at the freestyle skiing World Cup event in Tazawako, Japan.
Dmitriy Reikherd of Kazakhstan finished third with 87.26.
It was Kingsbury’s second loss of the season. And the second time this year that Horishima has pipped him for top honours.
“I had a good day overall despite not having a lot of time to train on this course as training was cancelled on the first day and yesterday, the weather was bad,” said Kingsbury.
At Canada’s Mont-Tremblant event in January, the Japanese sensation snapped Kingsbury’s record of 13 straight World Cup victories.
The Deux-Montagnes, Que., native bounced back from that defeat – his first in nearly a year – by winning gold in Pyeongchang in February to go with the silver he won in Sochi.
Despite Friday’s loss, Kingsbury is still on course to claim his 7th straight overall World Cup title.
With 760 points, the Canadian ripper has 280 more than Reikherd, his nearest rival, who has 480.
Kingsbury returns to the Tazawako slopes on Saturday to defend his dual moguls title.
In the women’s events Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe finished second.
The Montreal native, who was also competing in her first event since winning silver in Pyeongchang, scored 81.33 to finish behind Perrine Laffont of France who had 83.03.
“I am extremely pleased with my result today. After the Olympics, we always feel more tired, but the energy here was amazing today. The Japanese were happy to welcome us and it pushed me to give them a good show,” said Dufour-Lapointe.
Keaton McCargo of the United States was third with 81.06.
Dufour-Lapointe was the only Canadian to make the six-person final. Sister Chloe finished 11th, while Audrey Robichaud of Quebec City was ninth.
Fellow Olympian Andi Naude of Pentiction, B.C., didn’t qualify.