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Two years after her tears at the Olympic Games: this is how Justine Dufour-Lapointe found her smile again

Almost two years ago, several Quebecers cried in unison with one of their beloved children. Justine Dufour-Lapointe had just fallen heavily on the track at the Beijing Olympic Games. But the hard worker insisted on finishing the event, even if she was already certain of not getting on the podium, offering a great lesson in resilience.

The youngest of the trio of sisters then struggled to suppress her tears at the microphone of Radio-Canada. With watery eyes, she admitted that she had never imagined ending her third participation in the Games like this, eight years after putting the gold medal around her neck.

But the months passed and Justine Dufour-Lapointe found this energy, this smile and this determination which had charmed her fans since her debut, at 16 years old.

With good reason: the skier won the title in March champion of the general classification of the Freeride World Tour, the free skiing world championship. In his first season on the circuit, no less.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe moved at the bottom of the track at the Beijing Games. Archive photo, Didier Desbusschère

Justine Dufour-Lapointe celebrates her title of champion in the cumulative standings of the Freeride World Tour last March. Photo Courtesy Freeride World

“How we get up”

This transition from moguls to free skiing allowed her to “reconnect with the mountain” and “to rediscover part of her passion for skiing,” she told Journal Wednesday. Which she had lost a little (and which is “normal”, she adds) after 12 years in moguls.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe Photo Agence QMI, Toma Iczkovits

“I think back with a lot of love and gratitude to this Justine,” she explained about the strong emotions that inhabited her at the bottom of the track, in Beijing. She was real, authentic on television.

“It was a great life lesson. They say that in failure, what we must remember is not how we fall, but how we get up. And I am living proof.”

Another type of strong emotions

If freestyle skiing already constitutes an extreme sport, free skiing, or freeridetakes the expression to a whole new level, with its enormous mountains and steep slopes surrounded by rocks, on which skiers trace their own line of descent and add acrobatic figures.

The images of Dufour-Lapointe descents, like those below, speak for themselves (and give you chills!).

But you haven’t seen anything yet, warns the 29-year-old Montrealer, who this year aspires to become the first woman to combine “a 360 and a backflip».

The other issue, far from the slopes

So you will have understood: even if we could imagine her a little jaded after winning the title in her first year, she is far from being so. She once again has the championship in her sights for this six-event season which will begin on January 26 in Spain.

And this, despite all the challenges that stand before her and which, despite the dangerousness of her sport, seem to find herself further away from the mountains.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe Photo Agence QMI, Toma Iczkovits

Because unlike moguls, free skiing is not “federated”. In her new career, Justine Dufour-Lapointe has no support from the Canadian government: she must find her own sources of financing.

“Peace of mind”

Although she welcomes the contribution of her current sponsors, she nevertheless recognizes that she must take other steps in order to complete her budget.

A day of training costs $500, the skier estimates. This is without counting the costs associated with air travel (often nearly “$2,000 to go to Europe”), accommodation and meals, in particular.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe (center). Photo Courtesy Freeride World

The prize money for free skiing is around $5,000 for a victory.

“I would like to find [d’autres commanditaires] who believe in my big dream of winning the championship again and who would like to accompany me, to give me peace of mind,” she points out.

A return to the Games?

Could this “big dream”, moreover, be even bigger, in the event that free skiing makes its entry into the Olympic family in 2030, as those at the top of the discipline wish?

In short, could Justine Dufour-Lapointe participate in the Games for a fourth time, in a different sport and eight years after this famous disappointment in Beijing?

“No, I don’t think I’ll make it to 2030, we’ll calm our nerves! she says, laughing. But I see myself as a host or commentator, that’s for sure!”

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