PARK CITY, Utah -- Bradley Wilson has spent the past two years knowing that if he had just held on a little bit longer he would have been crowned world champion. In the final of the 2017 dual moguls world championships, Wilson made a costly mistake and lost out on the gold medal to Ikuma Horishima of Japan.
When Wilson learned he would again go head to head with Horishima Saturday night in the dual moguls quarterfinals at the FIS Snowboard, Freestyle Ski and Freeski World Championships, their matchup from two years ago came flooding back.
He wasn’t going to let Horishima stand in his way of the medal round.
It’s all Wilson could think about as he rode the ski lift to the top of the famed Deer Valley moguls course for his next run.
Two years more experienced – and perhaps more determined – this time the win decisively went to Wilson, 83.33 to 54.53, who would advance and use that momentum to win a second consecutive world championship silver medal.
“Today was different,” two-time Olympian Wilson said, comparing his two world medals. “I was able to throw down a good run in finals, and I can go home with no regrets, just let it all out on the line. We had a blast.
“That was the difference. Two years ago, at the end I could keep telling myself that I could’ve held on and instead I blew out, I made a big mistake. This year I gave it my run and that’s all I can do.”
Wilson is the first American man to win two dual moguls world medals since Jeremy Bloom and Toby Dawson, who both medaled in the event in 2003 and 2005.
Canadian Mikael Kingsbury came away with the gold at Deer Valley, narrowly defeating Wilson in the final, 87.62 to 84.69, with Wilson completing the course faster. Daichi Hara of Japan earned the bronze, beating out Swede Walter Wallberg in the small final, 83.31 to 79.37.
Wilson beat Hara in their semifinal in what would go down as the most memorable duel of the night, with Hara performing an unplanned double backflip for his second jump that ended with both skis coming off – one soaring a few dozen feet into the air – and a cut on his chin.
All of Wilson’s matchups proved memorable for the 26-year-old.
“They all kind of have their sweet victory, for sure,” he said. “Ikuma has the one with the little revenge-type thing from the last world championships. Daichi did a double backflip – are you kidding me?! And then Mik’s of course was just one of the funnest runs I’ve had in my life.”
Win or lose, facing “Mik” for gold should be considered a victory in itself. Kingsbury is the most accomplished men’s moguls skier of all time. The 26-year-old has Olympic gold, Olympic silver, nine world championship medals in 10 races (including four golds) and 78 world cup podiums in 95 starts.
“It’s close,” Wilson said of the rivalry and his ability to eventually earn gold. “We’ve had some really good duels in the past, he’s won the majority of them, and every time he’s just able to throw down his best run when he’s with me. It’s a little frustrating – I just needed him to make a little mistake, but of course I couldn’t expect it. He’s just an incredible skier and an incredible dude.”
While a world title would be nice, Wilson, the brother of 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Bryon Wilson, says he’s just out there focused on having fun. And there’s no greater place to Wilson for fun than Deer Valley.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said of earning a world silver in Park City. “This is the resort that has helped me get to where I am, more than they even know. They’ve been my sponsor now for the last six years and they’ve helped me an incredible amount, and I also grew up here.
“These guys are family. To get my first world cup podium here and now to have a world championship medal here is awesome.”
That first world cup podium, claimed exactly six years and one week ago, also came in dual moguls, an event in which moguls skiers compete in a knockout bracket format, with two skiers going head to head on the course at the same time, separated by a matter of feet – or inches in some cases – and, like moguls, are judged on speed, air and, most importantly, turns.
Six of Wilson’s 13 world cup podiums have come in dual moguls, which he prefers to moguls.
“I love being able to let it all out on the line,” Wilson explained. “You’re kind of playing with that edge of in control and not. You have control with yourself and you can kind of push the other person a little bit, but as far as skiing in control you’re just playing on the edge of that – it’s super fun.”
Moguls became an Olympic event in 1992 and dual moguls has been contested at the world championships since 1999 but is not yet on the Olympic program – something Wilson is hoping to see change sooner than later.
“You can use the same athletes, it wouldn’t cost anything to house those athletes,” he said. “We can have the same venue that’s already being built for moguls. It’s literally the easiest event to throw out there, and it’s an incredible spectator sport. It’s what the people want to watch, and we want to ski it.”