The private, family moments finally arrived at the end of more than 24 unbroken hours of public celebration. It was almost 4 a.m., two calendar days after they had snatched gold and silver in a thrilling late-night moguls competition, when Justine and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe and their big sister, Maxime, got back to the mountains. They stopped to buy a snack, rode the gondola up to the Athletes Village, shut the door to Justine and Chloé’s room and ate. Alone and together.
“We had the McDo,” Chloé admits sheepishly, using the Quebec slang for a certain hamburger chain: a conspicuous break from their usual, über-strict regimen. “It was comfort food. It was so funny we were craving it,” says Justine.
A more fitting commemoration came at lunch, just a few hours later, in the formal dining room of a local hotel. Les trois soeurs Dufour-Lapointe—or 3SDL, as they have cannily branded themselves on Twitter—joined their parents, Yves and Johanne, and toasted Canada’s first gold and silver medals of the Sochi 2014 Olympics, as well as Maxime’s 12th-place finish, with a few glasses of wine, red and white. It was Jennifer Heil, herself a former Olympic moguls champion at Turin in 2006, here working as a commentator for the CBC, who made the suggestion that they put aside some time to start processing how their lives were changing. “I think it’s the greatest tip anyone could have given us,” says Maxime. “There were so many things to catch up on. We barely scratched the surface.”
Their parents were there at the finish line late Saturday night, jumping up and down, screaming at the top of their lungs and, above all, crying; Johanne so copiously that her glasses fogged over in the cold. “That’s my life, these girls,” Yves declared. Justine, just 19, Chloé, 23, and Maxime, who turned 25 as the clock hit midnight, wept, too. Then they all did it some more during a two-hour, tour de force press conference in Sochi on Sunday. And again at the medal ceremony on the Olympic Park’s main plaza that night. Justine says the family isn’t usually that emotional; those were special tears for an extra-special circumstance. But if a tissue sponsorship isn’t forthcoming, some marketing genius deserves to lose his job.
And, of course, there’s that other family, too. Two nights after their own victory, the Dufour-Lapointes were on hand to cheer Alex Bilodeau and Mikaël Kingsbury as they took the top two steps of the podium in the men’s moguls. While a replay of that final plays on a nearby TV as we talk the next morning, the sisters keep breaking off to relive the moment, and rejoice all over again. “We’ve known these guys since we were eight years old,” says Justine. “Now we travel together on the World Cup. We have fun at nights and over dinners. They’re so sweet.” Just before the medal runs, Bilodeau—the defending Olympic champion—came to Chloé and talked about how he was drawing motivation from the sisters’ performances. “He said, ‘I’m going to give my everything.’ And he did it,” says Chloé. “That’s what the Games are all about: to inspire other people.”
The inner circle that helped them build to Olympic victory also includes Justine and Chloé’s coaches, Marc-André Moreau and Jean-Paul Richard, as well as sports psychologist Wayne Halliwell. In Vancouver, his athlete-whispering ways helped Bilodeau, Heil and Joannie Rochette win medals. And, four days into the Sochi Games, he has already racked up another three assists. “When you’re young, you don’t think you need that stuff,” says Justine, still technically a teenager. “But every athlete needs someone to keep them grounded and focused on what’s important.” Just how that was accomplished is a secret—for now. Chloé, who came fifth in the 2010 Games, admits to having been given a technique to help her calm her nerves and focus at the top of the hill, but says she’s not comfortable talking about it. And Justine just laughs and changes the subject.
Maxime, who worked with a different sports psychologist, also seems to have her head screwed on right. Four years ago, she only made Vancouver as a forerunner, a skier who descends the course just before competition begins to test conditions and camera angles. Twelfth at the Olympics is an accomplishment to be proud of, she says. At the rollicking Sochi press conference, photographers waved her out of a shot by shouting, “Winners only!” But she doesn’t mind. “Chloé and Justine totally deserve the attention,” she says. “I have my own story. It’s different, but to me, it’s just as good.”
Three attractive sisters competing at the highest level of a spectacular sport was always going to be catnip for journalists. The gold and silver have just put things into hyper-drive, with everyone from NBC and CNN to Russian state television clamouring for a few minutes. Perfectly coiffed and fully kitted-out in their opening-ceremonies uniforms, and lugging around their medals, they have already done 15 interviews this day, and it’s not even noon. And they have no idea how many times they’ve told their tale since the Olympics began. They are the faces of these Games.
Their thoughts are already turning to how things will be when they finally make it back home to Montreal after the end of the World Cup season in March. Johanne, who serves as their manager, has been inundated with inquiries from media and would-be sponsors. They’ve talked about their hopes of launching their own sports-clothing line, but are keeping their other business plans to themselves. “We are going to manage all that stuff. We’re going to choose what we want to promote,” says Chloé. “We are les trois soeurs and we have a brand.”
Whatever happens, they will stick close together. This summer, they will move out of their parents’ home on the eastern end of the Island of Montreal. Justine, now the leader on the slopes and off, says she’s excited. “I think we’re ready to do it together. We’ll be able to stay grounded together. We’ll be a team,” she says. And, in the years ahead, they’ll look back on those 24 hours in Sochi and maybe cry a little. “It was kind of like a big party, except we didn’t drink,” she says. “It was the start of the 3SDL bubble.”