KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Alex Bilodeau made history in Vancouver, becoming the first Canadian to win Olympic gold on home soil with a thrilling sprint to victory in men's moguls.
More history awaits in Sochi, where Bilodeau on Monday can become the first repeat winner in an event his country has come to dominate.
It only makes sense the biggest obstacle in his way is teammate Mikael Kingsbury.
The two have spent most of the last four years leapfrogging each other atop the World Cup standings. The 21-year-old Kingsbury is the reigning world champion, but the 26-year-old Bilodeau comes to Sochi having won each of the last three events.
"I'm in the right position," Bilodeau said. "I'm happy about it but on (Monday) it's going to be all to show what I can do. There's nothing that is a given, so I need to work hard for it."
That might not be enough if Kingsbury is peaking. For all the hardware he has picked up since making his professional debut a month after the Vancouver Games ended, the only thing missing is Olympic gold.
Though Bilodeau has surged in recent weeks, Kingsbury isn't exactly shying away from the pressure.
"I think I can win any event if I ski at my best, so I will focus to do the best run of my life for the job that I need to do," he said.
A one-two finish would bookend a magical stretch at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park for Canada. Sisters Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe took gold and silver in the women's final on Saturday night, clasping hands and fighting back tears as their parents screamed from the stands.
Things aren't likely be so chummy between Kingsbury and Bilodeau. Their relationship is respectful but not exactly close. While Kingsbury trains with the rest of the national team, Bilodeau prefers to go his own way. They both realize they have pushed the other to greater heights while creating separation between themselves and the rest of the field.
Even if the field doesn't quite agree.
"It is not a fight just for third," said U.S. skier Patrick Deneen. "There are a lot of people that could win this thing."
Maybe, but it would be considered one of the biggest upset of these games. Then again, there's already been one the moguls hill already. Defending Olympic champion Heather Kearney came in as a heavy favorite, only to struggle at the top of the course during all three of her runs. She ended up with bronze.
The Dufour-Lapointe sisters, however, had been making inroads on Kearney while Bilodeau and Kingsbury have consistently set themselves apart. More than a gold medal will be on the line Monday night. So will the title of greatest moguls skier of his generation.