Bilodeau highlights 4-medal day for Canadian freestylers
Canadian moguls king Alexandre Bilodeau had hoped competing on home snow would get his season back on track. The Olympic gold medallist got his wish.
Bilodeau captured gold in dual moguls Saturday on a four-medal day for Canada at a freestyle skiing World Cup, his first podium finish of the season.
On the women's side, 16-year-old Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal became the youngest woman ever to win an FIS mogul World Cup event.
Bilodeau, from Rosemere, Que., had finished no higher than fifth in three events this season, but found his competitive fire again after some soul-searching and hard work with his sports psychologist over the holidays.
"I changed my strategy and mental attitude towards racing, and it paid off," Bilodeau said. "I was trying too much before Christmas and now I'm just skiing the way I can and I'm not trying to go down two seconds faster than everybody else, I'm just trying to go down.
"I know my speed, I don't need to force anything, I just need to let my skis talk for themselves."
The 23-year-old Bilodeau, the top qualifier from the morning session, outscored Michael Kingsbury of Deux-Montagnes, Que., on the 250-metre course. Kingsbury took silver, while Juilbaut Colas of France won bronze.
Anastasia Gunchenko of Russia won the women's silver, while 2006 Olympic champion Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alta., was third.
Bilodeau, who was the toast of the town after winning Canada's first gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics, admitted he'd been feeling pressure since the Games.
"The pressure came only because I trained really hard this summer, I was really, really there, and I wanted to prove to myself," he said. "Pressure always comes from me first and I want more than anybody else to win every time I've got skis on. That's where I feel pressure and where I force it, instead of just letting it go and skiing and staying focused."
Bilodeau had a good feeling, he said, heading into Saturday's race at Mont-Gabriel, about an hour's drive north of Montreal.
"I had two or three days of training on the course, light days, but there really there, really perfect in strategy, and really felt in control, and same thing this morning in qualification," Bilodeau said.
"I wanted to ski a clean run, win the qualification and really control every run I was doing against everybody else and really put the pressure on the other guys. And that's what I did today."
Dufour-Lapointe shrugged off any pressure she was feeling to capture her first gold medal in front of a crowd packed full of family and friends.
"It's really special because my first gold medal at home was amazing, I had my friends, my family, all the people that I know for a long time are here," she said. "It's a little bit more pressure for me, but it's a good pressure."
Dufour-Lapointe said she believes Saturday marked the first time three sisters had competed in a World Cup final. Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, 19, beat 21-year-old sister Maxime in the preliminary round before losing to Heil in the final for the bronze medal.