Canadian Freestyle Skiers win four of six medals

Justine Dufour-Lapointe

Following in the footsteps of Canadian sporting greats Jean-Luc Brassard and Alex Bilodeau, Montreal’s Justine-Dufour Lapointe won a FIS World Cup gold at Ski Mont Gabriel in the Canada Post Freestyle Grand Prix today.

Justine Dufour-Lapointe
Justine Dufour-Lapointe

Dufour-Lapointe (Montreal, Que.), who becomes the youngest female to win an FIS mogul World Cup, did so 20 years after Brassard’s first win and five years after Bilodeau’s first win here. Both Brassard and Bilodeau went on to become Olympic Champions.

Dufour-Lapointe was joined in top spot, by Bilodeau (Rosemère, Que.) who won today’s men’s division.

A hometown crowd of about 2,000 braved snow and -15 degree temperatures to watch the exciting head-to-head event where eight Canadian women and seven Canadian men progressed to the 16-athlete finals.

Dufour-Lapointe battled Russia’s Anastassia Gunchenko for top spot, while Jenn Heil (Spruce Grove, Alta) bested Justine’s older sister Chloé in the consolation round.

In fact, the three Dufour-Lapointe sisters, Justine, Chloé and Maxime, all of whom grew up skiing with the Mt. Gabriel Freestyle Team, made it to the finals. It was the first time in Canadian Freestyle history that three siblings from the same family competed in a World Cup event together.

Justine, who won a bronze in a dual event in Meribel, France earlier in the season, said, “I’m really stoked, I’m more than happy. I can’t believe that I won my first World Cup here in Mt. Gabriel and in my home country for only my third competition on the World Cup circuit.”

She added, “Racing with my sisters is always fun because we’re really close and we don’t really fight, it’s more just a mental challenge.”

For her part, Heil, who now lives in Montreal, was encouraged to see such a strong crowd at the event and even more to see the younger generation stepping up to the plate. She said, “It’s so awesome to be at home here and the crowd here is seriously the best in the world. And it’s great to see the kids, like Justine and Mikaël on the podium.”

Dufour-Lapointe and Heil headed up a very strong finish for the Canadian team today. Other finalists included: Chloé Dufour-Lapointe (Montreal, Que.) in 4th; Audrey Robichaud (Quebec City) in 5th; Kristi Richards (Summerland, B.C.) in 6th; Alexandra Dufresne (Lorraine, Que.); Maxime Dufour-Lapointe (Montreal, Que.) in 15th; and Béatrice Bilodeau (Rosemère, Que.) in 16th. Chelsea Henitiuk (Spruce Grove, Alta) finished the day in 19th spot.

On the men’s side, Bilodeau beat teammate Mikaël Kingsbury (Deux Montagnes, Que.) in the final. Bilodeau said, “It feels great to touch the podium again and I think the results here are really promising for the rest of the season.”

Guilbaut Colas of France beat Jeremy Cota of the USA for the bronze medal; Colas maintains the yellow bib as the current standings leader.

Bilodeau is also encouraged by what he sees from the team’s rookies, “What we see here today with the men and the women speaks to the excellent job the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association is doing and it looks really positive for the future.”

It was Kingsbury’s third medal of the season – last month he won silver in the season-opener in Ruka, Finland and then gold in Changchun, China – it was also some of the fastest skiing the 18-year-old has ever done. Kingsbury said, “I did everything I could today. Against Alex in the final, I gave all I had, but he was definitely quicker than I was today. Still, I’m satisfied by what I was able to do.”

Canadian men’s finalists included: Rookies Marc-Antoine Gagnon (Terrebonne, Que.) and Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh (Quebec City) in 9th and 10th spot, respectively. Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau (Drummondville, Que.) was 11th; Arnaud Laurin-Landry (Montreal, Que.) was 12th and Cédric Rochon (St. Sauveur, Que.) was 13th. Eddie Hicks (Langley, B.C.) was 18th and Pascal Olivier-Gagné (Montreal, Que.) was 26th.

The Canada Post Freestyle Grand Prix at Ski Mont Gabriel, presented by Ernst & Young continues here tomorrow with an Aerial event.