The dream scenario has already come true. Last January, at a World Cup moguls event in Calgary, the Dufour-Lapointe sisters found themselves standing side-by-side on the top two steps of the podium. Justine, the younger at 19, took gold. Chloé, 22, the silver. It was a family victory celebration that now fuels their—and a nation’s—hopes in Sochi.
Chloé, who had three other medal wins last season, including a gold in dual moguls at the World Championships in Norway, came close in Vancouver, finishing fifth in her first Games. But it’s Justine who has emerged as a favourite to bump, flip and twist her way into the Olympic record books. Last year, the teenager tore up the circuit, collecting two golds, two silvers and two bronze, and finishing second overall in the world standings behind American Hannah Kearney, the defending Olympic champion.
The pressure will be on the young Montrealers come February. But they will have a built-in support network in each other. “In Vancouver, I was alone, in a certain way,” says Chloé. “I was so young.” She has already started educating her younger sibling on what to expect—the excitement, the daunting scale of the Games and the incessant glare of being in the world’s spotlight. And Justine is comforted by the knowledge that “Coco” will be by her side. “Having someone there who you know well and you can trust will be great,” she says. “I won’t be scared, because she can tell me, ‘It’s all right.’ ”
Canadians to watch at the Olympics
- High-flying slopestyle expert Mark McMorris
- Steven Stamkos, a snapped tibia, and the Olympic dream
- Ice veterans Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir
- Podium hopes for speedskater Christine Nesbitt
Skiing has always been a family affair for the Dufour-Lapointes. The girls were on the slopes by the time they were three, bribed with candy by their parents, Johane and Yves. It was their eldest sister, Maxime, now 24, who blazed the path from the mogul fields of various Laurentian ski resorts to the international stage. A member of Canada’s national team since 2009, she scored three Top 10 World Cup finishes last season, but may fall just short of accompanying her siblings to Sochi.(At the moment, Canada has secured three spots in women’s moguls for the Games, but another Quebecer, Audrey Robichaud, is currently ahead of her in the pecking order.)
“I guess it’s rare to see three sisters in the same sport, competing at the same high level,” allows Justine. “But for us, it’s so normal. It’s our life. We’ve been living and skiing together since we were kids. We can share everything.” The Dufour-Lapointes all have the same coaches, Jean-Paul Richard and Marc-André Moreau, as well as a single manager—their mother.
Their parents will be there, cheering them on in Russia. But the girls know their greatest challenge will be to put aside all the medal expectations and keep focused on the task at hand: a clean, fast run punctuated by two high-risk, big-air manoeuvres—a 25-second task that may bring a lifetime of glory.
The sisters have similar rituals at the top of the hill in the quiet moments before competition. They walk around to stay loose, listen to pop music on their MP3 players and focus on key words such as speed, energy and height. Once the chute opens, there’s no time to think; the actions must be automatic.
That’s okay. They’ve had years to dream about how they want things to turn out—and one tantalizing glimpse of how much fun a shared victory could be.