One of the lasting images of the Vancouver Games happened February 14th, when Alexandre Bilodeau won the men’s moguls to become the first Canadian to earn gold home soil, ending a disappointing distinction from the 1976 Montreal and the 1988 Calgary Games. His win ignited a gold medal spree for the hosts – 14 in total – the most by any host nation in Olympic Winter Games history.
Yet despite his place in Canadian sporting lore and praise from his countrymen, including a phone call from the Prime Minister that night, Bilodeau shrugs at the suggestion of his legacy. “It was definitely really special to be seen as a Canadian hero,” the Montreal native explains. “But I don’t really feel that way.” What was truly memorable to Bilodeau was being able to share the experience with his brother, Frederic, who was watching that night from the bottom of the hill.
Frederic, six years older than Alexandre, has cerebral palsy and has long been a source of inspiration for his brother. The two have been close throughout their lives and Alexandre has made it a priority to share his experiences with Frederic. “He lives the dream through me and my sister,” Alexandre says. “So we try to make him a part of it as much as we can… It’s priceless to see his reaction.”
Alexandre has helped raise money for cerebral palsy research in Canada through the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres, and, a few days after his gold medal-winning run, Bilodeau personally donated $25,000 and called on his sponsors to do the same. Bilodeau estimates that through donations and fundraising events, they’ve raised around $500,000, halfway to his goal of $1 million.
After a year away from skiing to heal some nagging injuries, Bilodeau is back on the bumps this season, displaying the form that earned him gold in Vancouver. He’s ranked second in the World Cup standings and won the dual moguls last weekend at Deer Valley. But Bilodeau says his priority this season is to prepare for Sochi, where he hopes to defend his gold and have another experience he can share with his brother.