SISTERS REACH SPEED BUMP
Canadian Dufour-Lapointes dream of Games repeat . . . it all comes down to today
MONT-TREMBLANT, QUE.— For years, the narrative of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters has been one of sisterly love and success on the slopes no matter the odds.
All three of them went to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Two stepped on the podium with Justine, the youngest of them all at 19, winning Canada’s first gold medal of those Games.
That story of sisterly love hasn’t changed — “we complete each other,” says the eldest Maxime — but their success rate on the slopes has dropped dramatically this season.
And that means the story of the siblings from Montreal as a triple threat for next month’s Pyeongchang Olympics may well end here at Saturday’s World Cup.
This is the last chance to make the Canadian moguls team, and Maxime — the one who got the family into moguls skiing in the first place — needs the results of a lifetime to make it. Even then she risks knocking sister Chloe — the Sochi silver medallist — off the team unless she too has great results on Saturday.
Right now, only Justine, Andi Naude — Canada’s top female moguls skier, ranked fourth in the world — and the ever-dominant Mikael Kingsbury on the men’s side are pre-qualified.
“We’re so strong together.” JUSTINE DUFOURLAPOINTE (PHOTO)
“Everything we do in life is about family. We need the family to go to these Games,” Chloe said after training runs. But she knows that having just two of them competing in South Korea is looking like a distinct possibility.
“We’ve talked about it and it’s a possibil- ity, but that line is not yet set so we’re going to go into this competition and ski like our lives depend on it.”
It’s been a tough year on the hill for them.
Maxime, 28, has been working to get her confidence back after hip surgery. Chloe, 26, and Justine, 23, have been making adjustments to their skiing and haven’t yet pulled it all together to produce the kind of runs they need to consistently hit the podium the way they used to. But it was even tougher at home. Last year ,their mother, Johane Dufour, was battling cancer, something that they had not made public until arriving at this World Cup. “It’s been a little rough,” Chloe said. “Our mom got cancer and we knew it last year during the season, and it was pretty hard because in our family we’ve never been touched by cancer before. But now she’s fine.”
Chloe and Maxime both said it was important to publicly share what had been going on at home, as a way for them to move on and refocus on their skiing in time — they hope — for the Games.
“There have been some ups and downs, but I’ve been fighting all the way,” Maxime said of her return to skiing after surgery last April.
“For me, the best way to come back stronger and make it to the Olympics was to get the surgery, which I did . . . I’m back fully now skiing, but there were some parts of competing that took a bit of time. It took a bit of time to find my inner competitor, let’s put it that way,” she said, laughing,
She’s found it now and she’ll know by the end of Saturday whether it’s enough. But fighting for what she wants is something she’s had plenty of experience with.
Their mom and dad Yves Lapointe raised a family of sailors, and those close-quarter trips are what forged the close bonds they maintain today. But Maxime, drawn to the excitement of jumping, started competing in moguls when she was 10 and that was the beginning of the end for the family sailing trips.
Her sisters, seeing the fun she was having, followed in her footsteps and before long the girls were travelling the world chasing snow and competing.
But Justine and Chloe, who came fifth at the 2010 Vancouver Games when she was just 18, always had more competitive success than Maxime.
So, when the sisters announced they intended to compete together in Sochi, everyone hoped for it but few thought it was really possible.
Maxime defied the odds then by changing her entire approach to skiing and, after years on Canada’s second-tier team, she moved up to Canada’s top team.
Heading into the last Games, Justine was ranked second, Chloe third, and Maxime had pulled herself to fifth, her highest world ranking ever.
Audrey Robichaud was the fourth skier to go to Sochi, where she finished 10th, and she’s in the mix to make the team for the Pyeongchang Games.
One of the more memorable images of 2014 Winter Games was Justine and Chloe looking at each other and holding hands as they stepped up onto the podium. Maxime, who had a small mistake on her run, finished 12th.
“I’m 12th in my first Olympics. There’s no disappointment. I’m going home head up,” she said at the time.
Her view going into Saturday’s allimportant Cup event is similar.
“The way I see it, I’m in MontTremblant, it’s so good to be home and have all my family and friends cheering for me,” she said.
“I’m going to do it like I do in every other race. I’m going to lay it out on the hill and do my best and look back with no regrets.”
Justine, who says she’s had the easiest road in the sport since she’s following in the footsteps of two sisters, is less philosophical about it.
“It’s hard, of course,” she said. “I’m human, I love my sisters more than anything so I wish them the best. I want them to be a part of my dream and I want their dreams to arrive . . . It’s sometimes painful because you just want to help, but I cannot ski for them. It has to be from them. But I’m always cheering out there at the bottom and encouraging them after a race.
“We’re so strong together and I need them as much as they need me.”
In one of the feel-good moments of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Canadian sisters Chloe, left, and Justine Dufour-LaPointe shared the moguls podium.