Over the past 10 years, numerous Canadian snow sport athletes have cemented themselves in sporting history. In celebration of the 148th birthday of Canada, we took a look back at historical moments and performances that have asserted Canada’s international dominance in snow sports and have helped define our nation.
1. Family first – Alexandre Bilodeau (Freestyle Skiing) –2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics: After Canada failed to win a gold medal when it hosted the Olympics in Montreal 1976 and Calgary 1988, the country was eager to see who would end that drought in Vancouver. On the second day of competition, Alexandre Bilodeau provided the breakthrough and secured Canada’s first Olympic medal on home soil. But it wasn’t just about the gold medal, as Bilodeau celebrated by embracing his brother Frederic, who is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. The 2010 Olympic Champion went on to defend his gold medal in men’s moguls at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, finishing just ahead of teammate Mikael Kingsbury who won the silver. Once again, Bilodeau reacted the same way as he did 4 years prior, by dedicating his medal to Fredric, calling him his hero and biggest inspiration
2. The golden sister act – Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (Freestyle Skiing) –2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: The only thing that could possibly be better than winning a gold medal is winning a gold medal and standing on the podium with a sibling who has shared the same journey as you. No one will forget the unbelievable and intense day of competition for ladies’ moguls, when the Dufour-Lapointe sisters took their sports on the podium holding hands. History was made when Justine took hom the gold and Chloe secured the silver medal in women’s moguls at Sochi 2014.
3. Uncorking the potential of snowboarding – Mark McMorris (Snowboarding) – 2012 X-Games in Aspen Colorado: At the young age of 18, Mark McMorris shocked the snow sport world by throwing down the first-ever backside triple cork 1440 in X-Games competition history. Not only did Mark change the gold-standard for Big Air competition as we know it today, but his larger-than-life performances at the 2012 X-Games led to a double gold in big air and men’s slopestyle…need we say more.
4. Sarah Burke lives on forever – Debut of women’s Super-Pipe skiing at the Olympics (Freestyle Skiing) – 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: As one of the world’s top freestyle skiers, Sarah Burke was a four-time Winter X-Games gold medalist in superpipe. Sarah led the efforts to get the women’s X-Games sport into the Olympics but died in a January 2012 training accident before she could see her dream realized. However, Sarah’s legacy lived on as she had successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee to add women’s superpipe to the Olympic program for the 2014 Winter Olympics. During the 2014 Winter Olympics, Trennon Payner, the Canadian freestyle ski coach, payed tribute to Sarah by speading some of her ashes on the halfpipe course prior to the inaugural women’s superpipe event. In essence, the efforts of Sarah Burke were influential to the Olympic movement and the 2014 Sochi Olympics solidified Sarah’s legacy living on forever.
5. A golden dream – Maelle Ricker (Snowboarding) – 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics: Maelle Ricker etched her way into the history books and inspired women all across the nation by becoming the first Canadian woman to win Olympic gold on home soil at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Maelle won her gold medal in ladies snowboard cross and as a North Vancouver native had the opportunity to make history just minutes away from her childhood home – a true dream come true.
6. Igniting the mogul movement – Jennifer Heil (Freestyle Skiing) – 2006 Torino Winter Olympics: Heil’s greatest accomplishment in freestyle skiing was her gold medal victory in the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. After narrowly missing the podium as an 18-year-old rookie in the 2002 Olympics, Heil blew away the competition in 2006. After finishing first in the qualifying run, Heil posted a score of 26.50 in the final run, 0.85 better than defending Olympic gold medallist, Kari Traa to take the gold medal. Not only was this Heil’s first ever Olympic medal, it was also the first ever Olympic medal for Canada in women’s moguls and the first medal for Canada in the 2006 Olympic Games.
7. The king is crowned – Mikael Kingsbury (Freestyle Skiing) – 2014/2015 Season: Mikael Kingsbury had a historic 2014/2015 season by winning his fourth consecutive crystal globe as the overall season points leader. Along the way, the King also tied the record for world cup wins with his 28th, and broke his own record for consecutive world cup wins in a season with 7. Oh and in case you forgot, Mikael also won a silver medal at Sochi, placing just behind teammate Alexandre Bilodeau – but at the young age of 22, Kingsbury is just getting started.
8. Can you do the 1-2 step? – Marielle Thompson & Kelsey Serwa – 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: If it hasn’t been made clear up until this point, Canada is pretty good at freestyle skiing. In addition to the Alexandre Bilodeau/Mikael Kingsbury and Dufour-Lapointe sisters 1st and 2nd place finishes in men’s and women’s moguls, Canada showed that their freestyle skiing game was not restricted to moguls alone. The ladies ski cross duo of Marielle Thompson and Kelsey Serwa completed the 3rd 1-2 finish for Canadian freestyle skiing at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, with Thompson winning gold and Serwa capturing silver. These ski cross medals contributed to a late surge in the Canadian medal count and solidified Canada’s dominance of the freestyle events at the Sochi Olympics (which resulted in four golds, four silvers and a bronze, while generating three 1-2 finishes).
9. Age is just a number – Dara Howell (Freestyle Skiing) –2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: At the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Dara Howell proved that age is just a number by taking home the gold medal in the inaugural women’s slopestyle event. In a dazzling display of substance and style, the Huntsville, Ontario native showed that her future is very promising and despite being only 19 years old, she can put on a world class performance.
10. Jumping into the history books – Taylor Henrich (Ski Jumping) – 2014/2015 Season: At only 18 years of age, Taylor Henrich already has a spot in women’s Olympic ski jumping history by taking the first run of the inaugural ski jumping event at the 2014 Sochi games, becoming one of the first women to compete in the sport at that level. Taylor Henrich continued to lead the charge for Canadian ski jumping by becoming the first Canadian woman to capture a World Cup ski jumping medal when she placed third earlier on the World Cup circuit on January 23, 2015. Additionally, Taylor`s fifth place finish was the highest ever for a female Canadian ski jumper at the World Championships.