Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Mountain Men

"I know that guy can deliver a better run than me; he's got more talent." 
(Alexandre Bilodeau regarding Mikael Kingsbury)

Alexandre Bilodeau with brother Frederic courtesy

Canada had three men in the final six who skiied down in the mountain in men's moguls Monday.  Two ended up on the podium.  Here is their story.

Alexandre Bilodeau, the veteran from Rosemere, Quebec, has been skiing in what seems like forever.  He competed at the Torino Olympics where he placed 11th.  And of course, he competed at the Vancouver Olympics where he was the first Canadian to win an Olympic medal on Canadian soil -- a gold, no less.  So, he arrived in Sochi hoping to defend his gold medal.  

Newcomer Mikael Kingsbury, also comes from Quebec.  His journey began ten years ago when he pasted the five Olympic rings to his bedroom ceiling with the words "II will win".  Kingsbury used to skip school when the World Cup Moguls Tour came to Quebec.  He would ride the ski lift with the competitors, getting tips.  One of those competitors was Bilodeau, with whom Kinsbury has been training in recent years. Bilodeau knew he had his work cut out for him if he was going to beat "the kid".  

On race day, Bilodeau stood at the top of the hill, knowing that it would be the last run of his career.  He had nothing to lose.  His inspiration was his older brother Frederic who cheered at the bottom of the hill, a smile on his face despite suffering from cerebral palsy.  Bilodeau gave it all he had as he bounced over the moguls and flew through the air.  

Kingsbury also knew he has his work cut out for him.  His mother waited with baited breath at the bottom of the mountain, after having placed a bunch of her son's favourite red, sour candies in his bag with a note:  "Just enjoy it."

In the end, Bilodeau and Kingsbury stood side by side on the podium listening to the strains of O Canada as they watched the Maple Leaf slowly rise.  According to the gold medalist "I dreamed about that and it feels so much better than Vancouver."  With the race behind them, what's in store for Canada's mountain men? Bilodeau plans to retire from sport and become an accountant like his dad, Serge.  Kingsbury, of course, will train for four more years, hoping to bring home the gold in 2018.  

Mikael Kingsbury courtesy

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