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Skiing: Horishima wins dual moguls for double gold at worlds

Ikuma Horishima (Mainichi)

SIERRA NEVADA, Spain (Kyodo) -- Japan's Ikuma Horishima won the men's dual moguls at the world freestyle ski championships on Thursday, adding to the gold medal he claimed a day earlier in the men's moguls event.

    The 19-year-old, who became the first Japanese man to capture a world moguls gold Wednesday, is only the second Japanese to strike double gold at a freestyle skiing worlds after Aiko Uemura, winner of the women's moguls and dual moguls in 2009.

    In the third round of the dual moguls competition in Spain's Sierra Nevada, Horishima came from behind to prevail over Canadian gold medal favorite Mikael Kingsbury, who has 42 World Cup wins to his name, to advance to the quarterfinals.

    In the big final, Horishima, double champion at last month's Sapporo Asian Winter Games, beat American Bradley Wilson 20-15. Switzerland's Marco Tade defeated Sacha Theocharis of France in the small final for the bronze.

    "I was under bigger pressure yesterday, so I was able to enjoy the races this time around," Horishima said.

    In the crucial duel against Kingsbury, the Japanese teenager allowed his opponent to lead after landing the first air maneuver but skied aggressively to catch the Canadian just before the second aerial and crossed the goal first for a 21-14 win.

    "After beating Kingsbury, I thought I had to win the whole thing," he said. "I'm more surprised than happy about my win."

    On Wednesday, Horishima, making his debut in a world meet, was helped by a costly mistake by Kingsbury, who touched the snow with his hand when landing an air maneuver too deep on his second run and snapped his skis in anger after crossing the finish line.

    While Horishima, the only competitor to clock under 22 seconds in the qualification run, earned 88.54 points, Benjamin Cavet of France won silver with 87.11 points, and Kingsbury, winner of nine World Cup events this season alone, took bronze with 82.85 points.

    "I'm really happy. I cried a little," Horishima said. "I tried to go aggressively and surprised myself by the way I performed. With my current skills, I thought the only way to win would be to be aggressive and give out my 120 percent. I surpassed myself," he said.

    Tae Satoya is the first and only other Japanese to be crowned champion in freestyle skiing at a major international competition, having struck gold in the women's moguls at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games.

    Despite his recent victories, Horishima, a student at Chukyo University, said he cannot continue to count on his rivals to make mistakes and must develop mental toughness as he sets his sights on the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to be held in February 2018.

    "I think I made my name known to my world, but I can be mentally weak at times. I've been saying my goal is to win gold in Pyeongchang, and for that I want to train harder," he said.

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