Family matters to Justine Dufour-Lapointe, but she's skiing for herself

Defending Olympic champion in women's moguls ready to stand out on her own, again

Family matters to Justine Dufour-Lapointe, but she's skiing for herself
Justine Dufour-Lapointe, shown in this 2016 file photo, comes into the PyeongChang Games as the defending Olympic champion in women's moguls. © File/Getty Images

​By Callum Ng, CBC Sports

There are few characters at the Olympic Winter Games with a more hyped and singular narrative than the "defending Olympic champion."

Just ask Lindsey Vonn, Catriona Le May Doan, or Kaillie Humphries.

Yet so often, portrayals of moguls skier Justine Dufour-Lapointe, champion in Sochi, happen within the context of sisterhood, along with eldest Maxime, and middle sister Chloe.

It's a natural storyline, and it's nice, because sometimes family is all we've got.

If you remember from the 2014 Olympics, where Justine and Chloe went 1-2, there is a memorable podium photo of Justine behind the top step, holding Chloe's hand. Maxime was 12th.

A promotional video for the current Team Canada marketing campaign has all three sisters linked and bounding across ethereal moguls.  

But in real life, only Justine and Chloe qualified for PyeongChang 2018.

And theirs is an individual sport.

Should she make the final in Korea, Justine will be alone atop the moguls course, with plans to stand out on her own once again.  

Skiing for herself

There is a story Justine is sometimes asked to tell.

It's about her first-ever moguls run, which happened, she says, when she was about eight-years-old.

"I was that little girl with those two old[er] sisters and I just wanted to be like them," Justine said.

So off she went down the hill. She fell...and got up. Then fell again, before finally finishing.

"It took me maybe three minutes to go down that hill, fell two times, but I was actually so happy and so proud of myself," she said.

Unfamiliar with moguls skiing? Click on the video player below to get up to speed with Kidsplaining:

So delighted that she was in tears, alarming her mother, Johane Dufour.

"I was that type of kid just loving competing, having fun, that was my passion," Justine said.  

The insatiable thrill of that first competition is often what hooks young athletes.

And Justine, it seems, is enticed by the deep personal satisfaction of pulling off an amazing run. The one that the Justine of 2018 is capable of.

"That will make me so proud, and not proud for anyone else, but just for me," Justine said. "Skiing for yourself is so rewarding, and I think that's the only thing I want to go for."

A bumpy ascent

Justine, now 23, is ranked sixth in the world ahead of Pyeongchang, and Chloe, age 26, is 12th. Before Sochi, Justine was second and Chloe was third.

At the final World Cup before the Olympics, held this January in Mont-Tremblant, Que., they revealed that their mother battled cancer last year.

Justine won the Mont-Tremblant event, her first World Cup victory in almost a year. She had one other podium this season, out of seven starts and said she needs to find more speed and to extract herself from thinking too much about technique.

At the Olympics, all you need is a moment, and Justine proved in 2014 she can capture it.

"I love competition, I love being out there feeling that adrenaline, and giving my best run at the right moment," Justine said. "That's what it's all about, and for me, that's what I'm always aiming for and focusing on and that's what drives me."

How do moguls skiers do what they do? Click the video player below for an explainer from 'Consider This':