By Kosuke Fukui / Yomiuri Shimbun CorrespondentMONT-TREMBLANT, Canada — Flying high in the air, a new moguls star thrilled fans in Mont-Tremblant, Canada.
Twenty-year-old Ikuma Horishima scored his first victory on Jan. 20, winning the final men’s World Cup event before the Pyeongchang Olympics.
The Chukyo University student defeated Canadian Mikael Kingsbury, the undisputed king of the moguls who had won 13 straight Cup events since February 2017.
“I’m very happy,” Horishima said with a smile.
His victory came at the seventh moguls event in the freestyle skiing World Cup. Horishima scored 93.88 points, ahead of the 93.27 points from Kingsbury.
In the second round of the final, in which the top six skiers competed against each other, Horishima successfully pulled off a double twist with a back-flip on his first jump, and a “cork 1080,” which includes three rotations during an off-axis jump and a vertical rotation, on the second jump.
Horishima surpassed Kingsbury’s scores for aerial maneuvers and turns, and reached the top of the podium by a margin of 0.61 points.
In March last year, Horishima won gold at the World Championships, the first for a Japanese male moguls skier. However, he had a difficult time after that.
This season, Horishima didn’t advance to the second round of any final, from the first to the fifth moguls World Cups.
At the sixth event on Jan. 11, he finally advanced to the second round of the final and finished fourth.
“I felt like I was driven into a corner because there are no [more] competitions before the Olympics, so I took on the challenge to win. This helped me gain a sense of good skiing,” Horishima said.
Then things turned around, and that led to him claiming his first Cup victory.
“I think this result must have put a fire under Mikael. But more than that, Ikuma has become more confident,” said Horishima’s coach Yuta Jo.