Perrine Laffont wins France's first Pyeongchang medal with snowy moguls win

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- Perrine Laffont put France in the medals column at the Winter Olympics, skiing through the bumps and snow to take the women's moguls title Sunday night.

The 19-year-old Laffont gave her country its first women's gold medal in the 26-year history of the event.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Canada finished second to add silver to the gold she took four years ago in Sochi. Yulia Galysheva of Kazakhstan, competing with a broken hand suffered last month at a contest in Utah, won bronze to give her country its eighth Winter Games medal since it started competing separately after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Dufour-Lapointe's silver came in the midst of a rough year, during which her skiing suffered after she learned her mother, Johane, had cancer. (She is now in remission.)

"I feel so different than I was in Sochi," Dufour-Lapointe said. "I was completely a kid then, not knowing what was going on around me."

The Americans had a rough night in the snow. None made the six-woman final, and top-ranked Jaelin Kauf was the best finisher in seventh.

Although Kauf and teammates Morgan Schild (15th) and Keaton McCargo (eighth) are older than Laffont, the champion came to Pyeongchang with something none of them had -- Olympic experience. Laffont competed in Sochi as a 15-year-old and finished 14th.

"In Sochi, it was for getting the experience of the Olympics, and today was pretty different," Laffont said. "I was here to get a medal."

She scored a 79.72 on a strong run through the steadily falling powder, keeping her knees glued together and pointing downward and landing both her jumps -- a 360-degree spin and a backflip with her skis crossed -- without a bobble. She beat Dufour-Lapointe by more than two points.

Several women said it was one of the toughest courses they had ever skied on, and the snow that blanketed the course throughout the evening did nothing to make it easier.

The Canadian's sister, Chloe, who joined Dufour-Lapointe on the medals stand in Sochi by winning silver, came in 17th this time.

Laffont, meanwhile, puts her name on a list of Olympic moguls champions that includes Hannah Kearney and Jenn Heil on the women's side and French skier Edgar Grospiron, who won the gold in the men's contest in 1992, the year moguls were introduced to the Olympic program -- and six years before Laffont was born.

No matter. Laffont played the role of the wily veteran on this night.

"There is so much pressure," she said. "And so many people want you to be a champion. But it's complicated to be a champion. It doesn't look that hard, but it is hard."