VAL SAINT-COME | Elliot Vaillancourt ended his best ever World Championship by scaring Olympic champion Ikuma Horishima in the round of 16.
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It was the second time in his career that Vaillancourt had met the Japanese and he was looking to make amends after a disappointing descent at Alpe d’Huez in December.
“In France I made big mistakes and made it easy for myself,” he said. This time I wanted to make a big run to make him remember me. I’m very happy with my run and I think he’ll remember me.”
Vaillancourt edged Horishima to the finish, but the Japanese got a better score due to a higher difficulty jump. “I was faster than the World Cup leader in duels,” he said. Even though we’re about the same age, Ikuma is an idol because he’s so good and I’ve always followed his performances. It’s quite an honor to compete with him and stand behind him.”
“I knew it would happen on the same descent, but I made a small mistake on the top landing and that’s enough to make the difference to go after Vaillancourt. His level of difficulty in the summit jump is higher and he got a better score there as well. I have nothing to complain about on my descent and am very satisfied. This is the best World Cup weekend of my career.
After qualifying for the first career World Cup on Friday, Julien Viel and Louis-David Chalifoux came back tonight by battling 11th and 14th to reach the round of 16.
“Walter Wallberg is fast, but I used the moment to compete against the Olympic champion,” underlined Much about his duel against the Swede. It’s special, but I did my job. This is my best weekend in the World Cup. I had fun and want to do it again. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Like Viel and Vaillancourt, Chalifoux also met a big name in the round of 16. As an opponent he had his teammate Mikaël Kingsbury. “Mik is Mik and there’s not much to do but do your best. Even though I couldn’t follow him, I’m happy with my descent. It’s always fun to duel with him. In our first duel in 2019 at the Nationals, I was only 16 and I fell. It’s an improvement.”
“I really didn’t expect to reach two finals this weekend,” Chalifoux added. I’m super happy with my runs. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Frustrated with his performance, Gabriel Dufresne retired on the first lap and finished in 29th place. “It’s extremely frustrating because I’ve been fighting myself,” he said. I really wanted to be first in the top jump, but got stuck on the last bump. The summit jump cost me my duel. I wasn’t in a good position to catch up. I felt good, but I wasn’t driving like I can.”
For his part, Kerrian Chunlaud took part in his first duel of the season, coming back from anterior cruciate ligament surgery. He finished 21st. “It’s the first time I’ve driven that fast in a long time. It feels good.”