The 2023 FIS Freestyle World Championships in Bakuriani, Georgia, continued last weekend with the Moguls and Dual Moguls event. The single Moguls event was held on Saturday, February 25, 2023, at the Kokhta resort.
Defending World Champion Perrine Laffont was dominant all day. The French mogul skier qualified for each round in first place. Meanwhile, Olympic champion and current leader in the World Cup standings Jakara Anthony seemed to be having an off-day, qualifying for the finals in sixth place and dropping to 17th in the first final and thus failing to progress through to the Big Final.
Meanwhile, all American mogul skiers progressed in strong positions from the qualification, with Jaelin Kauf, Olivia Giaccio, Hannah Soar, and Elizabeth Lemley taking 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, respectively. Only Kauf and 16-year-old Lemley progressed to the Big Final of the six best skiers.
Perrine Laffont took home the Gold, making it her fourth World Championships title, while Olympic Silver medallist Jaelin Kauf won her second World Championships Silver medal. Bronze went to Austrian-American skier Avital Carroll who used to compete for her native U.S. but switched to skiing for her grandmother’s home country following a prolonged break from mogul skiing after a torn ACL. This is Avital’s first World Championships start and her first international podium, although she did win Silver in the 2015 Junior World Championships. It is Austria’s first Moguls medal since 2007, when Margarita Marbler won Bronze in Madonna di Campiglio, Italy.
Likewise, in the men’s single Moguls, Mikael’ the King’ Kingsbury dominated the competition, qualifying each round in first place. Even at 30, the Canadian is simply unstoppable, putting down a near-flawless run, scoring 89.92 points, and claiming his seventh career Gold at the World Championships, solidifying his title as the most successful Freestyle skier of all time. Kingsbury has also won the World Cup crystal globe 23 times, surpassing Switzerland’s Conny Kissling, who held that title for many years with 22 crystal globes.
Silver went to Australia’s Matt Graham with 88.90 points, making it his third World Championships Silver medal. Bronze went to Beijing 2022 Olympic Gold medallist Walter Wallberg from Sweden, who finished narrowly behind the Australian with 88.52 points. It is Wallberg’s first World Championships medal.
On Sunday, February 26, 2023, the Moguls competitions continued in Kokhta with the Dual Moguls. The Dual brackets are based on the results from the previous day, starting with a round of 32 and progressing to round 16, Quarter Finals, Semi-Finals, and then Finals.
Perrine Laffont climbed through the brackets victoriously and finally faced off against Jaelin Kauf in the Big Final, who had beaten teammate Hannah Soar in the Semi-Finals. Avital Carroll had crashed in her Semi-Final against Perrine, meaning she was facing Hannah Soar in the Small Final in the battle for Bronze.
Kauf and Laffont raced down the course, and while the American gave it her all to claim her first World Championships gold medal, she couldn’t match the seasoned French skier. The Duals victory meant that Perrine Laffont claimed her fifth World Championships Gold, after winning Dual Moguls in 2017 and 2019 and single Moguls in 2021 and 2023, making her the most successful women’s World Championships Freestyle skier, beating freestyle skiing icons Jennifer Heil from Canada and Kari Traa from Norway, who each hold four World Championships titles.
U.S. Mogul skier Jaelin Kauf took home the Silver, making it her second Silver medal at the Bakuriani 2023 World Championships and her fourth World Championships medal. Meanwhile, Avital Carroll beat Hannah Soar in the small final, claiming her second international career podium. This also meant the Dual’s podium was the same for the women as the single Moguls the day prior.
The Men’s podium saw a slight reshuffle, with Gold again going to Mikael Kingsbury, who completed a perfect weekend, claiming his eighth World Championships title. The King of Moguls beat Sweden’s Walter Wallberg in a thrilling Big Final, while Matt Graham beat Pavel Kolmakov from Kazakstan to claim the Bronze. This means Graham became the second Australian to win two medals at FIS World Championships after Dale Begg-Smith in 2007. Graham’s teammate, World Cup leader Jakara Anthony, did not start the women’s Duals, making everyone speculate if the 2022 Olympian may have injured herself in the singles run the day before.
The FIS World Cup Moguls series will continue in mid-March in Almaty, Kazakstan.