Chloe Dufour-Lapointe: Sister strength fuels Olympic passion

The Dufour-Lapointe sisters find strength in numbers. (Getty Images)
The Dufour-Lapointe sisters find strength in numbers. (Getty Images)

Editor’s note: Chloe Dufour-Lapointe is the 2014 Olympic silver medallist in moguls and one of three sisters to compete in the Sochi Winter Games. Her accomplishments also include winning gold in dual moguls at the 2013 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships. Chloe and youngest sister Justine will return to Olympic competition as part of Canada’s freestyle ski team in South Korea, where they’ll be supported by older sister Maxime.

It was Jan. 23, 2016 and we were about to make history: three sisters, for the first time, sweeping a World Cup podium.

Funny enough, on this day, we knew exactly what was possible. Maxime, Justine and I had all qualified for the Super Final and, because there are only six competitors in the event, we were already 50 percent there. So instead of focusing on winning, the three of us decided to refocus on what we had to do to do our best run. We could feel the strength we had together, that invisible link we have but no one can see.

We call it wifi.

With five skiers done, I was first and Maxime was second. The only skier left was Justine. Maxime and I were at the bottom of the course going, “Come on, Justine, you have to make it.” None of us cared what position we got on the podium, we just wanted to be there together. Justine won. I was so proud of all three of us for sharing that moment.

What does it mean to be Olympic? To me it’s all wrapped up in my sisters. We wouldn’t be where we are today without each other. In unity, we find strength. People find this hard to believe, but there’s no competition between us. We just want to help each other succeed. We see one push and we all want to push harder. We drive each other to a higher level.

When Justine and I won gold and silver in women’s moguls at the Sochi Olympics, the victory wasn’t ours alone. If you look at that photo of us on the podium in Sochi, you can see I’m crying, because I’m the emotional one, and Justine is smiling, because she’s so stoked about her run. I’m just thinking about all the work, cries, laughs, my parents, and all the people that helped me along the way. I see our dream coming true when I look at that picture, our family dream. My dad and my mum were there. Both my sisters were there. I feel like we were all on the podium together.

Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe celebrate their silver and gold medals, respectively, in Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympics. (Getty Images)
Chloe and Justine Dufour-Lapointe celebrate their silver and gold medals, respectively, in Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympics. (Getty Images)

Family comes first

We choose to take a different approach to sports and I believe it all stems from the way we were raised by our parents. They were love birds and when they decided to have a family, they decided they wanted to spend quality time with their kids. If it was summertime, we went on the sailboat during the weekend, and if it was winter we went skiing. During the week, my dad came home late from work, 7 p.m., and we were starving by the time he got home. My mum would give us carrots or celery to tide us over. But we waited until he was home to have dinner so we could spend that quality time together. We were able to talk about our day, and what we did, and how it went. We were just allowed to be ourselves. They were precious moments for us.

It’s not easy being a moguls skier. We’re travelling all the time, all over the place. So we had to make some choices when we were young, like missing a friend’s birthday. But it was always our choice and it wasn’t too hard to make. It was all about family for us — I think it’s just in our values. Today, we would never say that it was a sacrifice because it’s always been our passion. We had so much fun together.

As with all sisters, it hasn’t always been perfect. Maxime says she told my parents to take me back to the hospital when I came home as a baby, because she didn’t like to share the attention.

And then there’s Justine, the baby of the family. When she arrived, I really questioned that. She used to follow me every single time I was going to see my friends and it could be really annoying. But now, she’s the one who brings me joy, she’s the little clown, and I just love her, because she makes me happy when I’m too tense. She also can be bossy and impatient, but the three of us have learned to work things out.

COC Photo by Jason Ransom
COC Photo by Jason Ransom

‘The banana rule’

Take bananas. We live together, we train together, we eat together, we do everything together. But we each want a banana on the morning of training, and sometimes we don’t have time to go to the grocery store to restock our bananas!

I’ll wake up in the morning — I’m usually the first one up — and I’ll go into the kitchen and I’ll see two bananas. I’ll take one for myself. Maxime is the next one up, and she’ll the grab the other. And then Justine, when she gets up (usually last), will be upset there’s none left and that sort of thing will create some tension in the house.

So we found a solution and we call it the “Banana Rule,” which is, the first person who wakes up can have the first banana. And the second person has to split the last banana in two to share it. The point is, we listen to each other, respect each other, put ourselves in the other’s shoes and try to compromise.

The hardest part of training and competing with your sisters is the disagreements you sometimes have. But, as with the banana, we find solutions. The best part of competing with your sisters is you get immediate, honest critiques.

We aren’t always serious. We like to have fun. Fashion is another passion I really enjoy and when we’re doing events, I like to make us all look good. Even when we’re training, we like to dress well.

I’ve been playing around with design for a long time. Skiing was expensive, so we couldn’t afford a lot of new clothes. I would take two scarves and build them into a skirt or use some old curtains to make an outfit. We would make costumes for our dolls and all play dress up.

My sisters and I have talked about launching our own fashion line one day, when the time’s right. Our first fashion rule is to inspire young ladies to push themselves to reach their potential.

Whatever we decide to do after sports, we’ll continue to be Olympic. We know we’re better when we’re together, pushing each other to be our absolute best. In unity, we find strength.

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