As important ski competition has been for the majority of Mikaël Kingsbury’s life, his family has been and will always be the priority.
That’s why, in preparation to defend his Olympic gold medal on Saturday, he made sure they all knew he was thinking of them.
Back inside the family home in Deux-Montagnes, Que., Mikaël’s mother Julie, father Robert, brother Maxime and his family as well as Kingsbury’s girlfriend Laurence Mongeon were dressed in Canadian colours cheering him on. Mikaël’s sister, Audrey, was watching from her home with her newborn daughter.
Julie said ever since he started skiing competitively, on race day Mikaël would always make sure the family felt part of his performance.
And in the early morning hours back home in Canada, he did it again.
“You know what he did this morning? He sent us a Snapchat of his helmet. He wrote the names of the whole family on his helmet. And the coaches and people who are close to him and are important to him,” Julie Thibaudeau told CBC Sports. “He said ‘I won’t be alone in Beijing. You’ll be with me.’ And then he went for his competition. That’s Mik.”
Before the Olympics, Mikaël made sure the names of those who have helped in his pursuit of greatness were painted onto his helmet.
“The names were painted in red so it’s on the back of the helmet. At the Olympics there are certain rules. I don’t even know if people would notice it,” Julie said. “We cried. It’s so nice. Mik has always included us in his competition and in everything so we feel part of his success all the time. He’s so kind.”
Going through emotions as watching from home
Julie said the family began their day with the qualification races that started at 5 a.m. ET.
“We were all at the house watching Mik. We started watching at the beginning so it was really early,” she said. “The whole family was there cheering and my god it was stressful.”
Julie and Robert were at the bottom of the hill four years ago in South Korea when Mikaël skied to Olympic gold, but because of the challenges of the pandemic despite badly wanting to again experience the magic of that night.
And like he did four years ago, Kingsbury was second-last to compete.
Despite silver, Kingsbury proves dominance
He was nearly flawless, posting a score of 82.18 points in the six-man super final at Genting Snow Park in Zhangjiakou.
“He was in control. He was intelligent and skiing well like Mik always does,” Julie said. “You have to manage that stress and I thought he did it well. Even on his last run, I thought he skied so well.”
The 21-year-old put forward the performance of his life, enough to steal the title from Kingsbury. It was Wallberg’s first major win on the senior circuit.
“Mik has always been an idol of mine since I started skiing moguls. I remember asking him how he’s tuning his skis and tips in the moguls. Always been looking up to him,” Wallberg told reporters.
WATCH | Kingsbury makes history with silver in men’s moguls in Beijing:
Kingsbury, who has always been gracious in victory and defeat, congratulated Wallberg.
Julie knows it wasn’t the colour Mikaël wanted or expected. But the silver medal on Saturday makes him the first male moguls skier to win three Olympic medals.
He is the most dominant moguls skier in the history of the sport.
Kingsbury’s success in the sport is jaw-dropping. He has 101 podium finishes, he’s won the world championship six times and has 18 Crystal Globes —including nine straight for overall moguls winner in a season.
WATCH | Kingsbury ‘proud’ of performance under pressure:
Call home following performance
In the hours that followed his third consecutive Olympic podium performance, Mikaël finally had the chance to call home.
Julie said they all gathered around to celebrate the moment.
“He is feeling great. He wants to win gold. But he did what he had to do. He’s happy because he skied well. Yes, it’s not gold but it’s silver. And you have to be happy about that because you’ll never be happy then,” Julie said.
“You cannot win everything. Mik is very mature about that. He’s satisfied. He’s a wise man.”
WATCH | Kingsbury discusses silver medal performance:
The 29-year-old was in full celebration when he called back home.
“He was having a beer with the Canadian freestyle staff. We took a picture. We tried to do the magic anyway we could,” Julie said.
“I’m always emotional in these big moments. I just told him he did what he had to do. He was happy. My family is emotional. Mik is emotional. It was a super moment. When we’re all together we feel so strong.”
In his post-race interview Mikaël talked about a lot of sacrifices there have been in the months leading up to the Olympics, including spending less time with those he cares about most.
“I can’t wait to go home and see my family and friends and go celebrate,” he said.
His mom said there will be a party.
“To go every four years and perform. It’s performance on demand. He delivered what we ask for all the time. What can you say? It’s just crazy. It’s crazy what he’s doing,” she said.
“He’s been having great results for 10 years. He impresses me so much.”
WATCH | Beijing Profile: Mikaël Kingsbury: