CORNWALL – While Montreal freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau may have graced the podium winning two gold medals in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games, it wasn’t an easy road getting there.
“I’ve had ten times more defeats than wins,” he told educators at the Upper Canada District School Board’s Small Schools Summit at Nav Center. “You learn through the hard times.”
The 27-year-old chronicled his rise to the premier winter sporting event in the world, starting with the sacrifices he had to make growing up in a circle where hockey was the popular sport.
Bilodeau said he had been training in both aerials and moguls but there came a time where he had to make a choice. “You won’t go to the Olympics if you don’t make the sacrifice, his father, Serge, told him whom he calls one of his greatest confidants and supporters.
The Olympic double-gold medalist says two of his biggest failures came early in his career but shaped him for a successful future. One was his failure to qualify for the Canada Games.
The other was his experience at the 2006 Olympics where he finished twelfth. “I saw gold,” he told the audience. “It’s mine and nobody is going to get it,” speaking of his goal. But Bilodeau says a costly mistake on the jump shattered his dream. “I started having ‘what if’ thoughts,” he said. “What if the medal will never be mine. It’s 23 seconds every four years,” he said. A shattered Bilodeau says his brother, Fred, put everything into perspective. “You told everyone you wanted to go to the Olympics (that was your goal).”
Bilodeau says his brother, who has cerebral palsy, helps bring balance in his life. Bilodeau says we should always try to go after our dreams. “He (Fred) has dreams, to have a job, to have a family.” Bilodeau encouraged the audience of educators to spend time with people with disabilities because its self-rewarding. “(You spend time with them and you get) two hours of energy,” he said. He also says a proper work-life balance is important.
After winning gold in the 2010 Olympics, Bilodeau set his sights on Sochi. “I was a good skier but I thought I could be a better skier,” he said. “At least I need to try.” In 2014, he won gold again in moguls skiing event.
Bilodeau retired from skiing this year and is now studying to be an accountant. When asked by an audience member how he channels his intensity for skiing into the business world he said he told his teammates he would have his CPA designation before the next Olympic cycle.
The two-day UCDSB Small Schools Summit wrapped up today.