They don’t give out gold medals for showing the heart of a champion.
It’s too bad — Justine Dufour-Lapointe deserves one.
The Canadian moguls star’s career will no longer be defined by Olympic gold in Sochi in 2014 or silver in PyeongChang in 2018. Equally memorable — and important — was how Dufour-Lapointe conducted herself during and after an athletic low point on Sunday in Beijing.
“I had to finish this Olympic dream on my two feet and make sure everyone who is going to watch tonight (knows) that over the winning over the bad days like this, the only thing that is important is to never give up. Never give up,” Dufour-Lapointe told CBC in an emotional interview less than 30 minutes after an Olympic-ending crash.
While not ranked as highly as she was four and eight years ago, the Montrealer booked one of the first 10 spots in the 20-person finals in the opening qualifying session.
Then, disaster. After her opening jump in the first round of the three-round finals, Dufour-Lapointe lost her footing on a bump and crashed.
Dufour-Lapointe screamed in apparent frustration, but it was not the end. It was just the beginning.
The Canadian asked a course worker to help her retrieve a pole so she could finish her run, which included one more jump
“Today, (not giving up) was my only choice — to stay up and keep skiing even though it was painful,” Dufour-Lapointe said in the CBC interview. “Life is not always so easy, but I just want to make sure everyone at home knows that I never gave up. I fight those past four years so hard to give you that Justine who is willing to take a risk and ski with fire and dignity. That’s the only thing tonight I did. I fight. I never give up.
“Tonight, it’s not an easy one but I’m going to keep smiling through it.”
Dufour-Lapointe was the last of three Canadian silver medallists from PyeongChang to fall short of the podium on Sunday — a medal-less Day 2 for Canada after the country made two trips to the podium on Day 1.
Snowboarder Laurie Blouin was closest to the medals among the trio, finishing fourth in the slopestyle event.
The Quebec City native posted her top score on her final run (81.41 points), but was more than three full points back of bronze medallist Tess Coady of Australia.
It was the second fourth-place performance for Canada at the Olympics following the same result by Canada’s short-track speedskating mixed relay team on Saturday. The skaters had a bronze taken away from them when they were penalized on a video review for a collision with Hungary.
Bloemen faded in the latter stages of the 5,000 metres and settled for 10th.
“I fully executed my race plan. I started out really well and I don’t know what happened,” Bloemen told CBC. “I’m really confused, I don’t understand it. I don’t know what to say.”
Dufour-Lapointe had some help with determining what she should say. Her older sister, Chloe, a moguls silver medallist behind her champion sibling in 2014, also was in the Beijing finals.
Chloe, who was eliminated in the second round of the finals, embraced Justine after the crash.
— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) February 6, 2022
“My sister at first (had to) hold me and carry me for a while. I had to cry, I had to let it out because it’s a pain,” said Justine, who doesn’t know if she’ll hang on for another Olympic shot in four years.
“But on the other hand, she told me I have another choice — to stay calm and go talk to you guys and make sure I have the right thing to say and speak with my heart.”
The tears flowed, but the words continued as she addressed everyone who could not be in Beijing because of a ban on foreign spectators during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Thank you so much for everyone at home. I love you so much. I always felt all your support.
“You were here until the end,” Justine said, tapping her heart.
“I love you.”