Alexandre Bilodeau, freestyle skier (born 8 September 1987 in Montreal, QC). Alexandre Bilodeau’s gold medal in moguls at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver made him the first Canadian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal on home soil. At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, he became the first male Canadian athlete to successfully defend his Olympic gold medal; as well as the first freestyle skier to win consecutive Olympic gold medals. He finished his career with three world championships in dual moguls and 19 World Cup medals. He then became an accountant and a national spokesperson for people with disabilities. He has been inducted into the Québec Sports Hall of Fame, the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Early Years and Career
Bilodeau played hockey as a youngster. His family encouraged him to switch to skiing at age seven because it could be enjoyed by the whole family, including Alex’s older brother Frédéric. He has cerebral palsy and is unable to skate. Though not initially fond of the sport, Alexandre Bilodeau was a natural jumper and excelled at freestyle skiing. He began to compete in his early teens in both aerials and moguls, but soon focused on the latter. He joined the national team’s development program in 2004. His background in aerials strengthened his skills as a mogul skier. At just 14 years old, he became the youngest athlete to perform a triple jump in competition.
Early Career Highlights
Bilodeau had a strong start to his competitive career. At the 2005 Fernie Nor Am, he became the first freestyle mogul skier to perform a double twisting flip in competition. At the 2006 Ski Mont Gabriel, he became the youngest man in International Ski Federation (FIS) history to win gold at a World Cup event. Bilodeau also qualified for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, where he placed 11th. For his accomplishments, the FIS named Bilodeau the 2005–06 Rookie of the Year for men’s moguls.
Though his career started strong, problems with concentration during competition soon forced his stats down. Bilodeau looked to other training methods, such as biofeedback, to regain his focus. The training helped and his 2008–09 season ended well. In 2009, Bilodeau and teammates Vincent Marquis and Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau had an unprecedented Canadian podium sweep at the Ski Mont Gabriel World Cup; they won silver, gold and bronze, respectively. In all, Bilodeau garnered five World Cup golds and three silvers in moguls and dual moguls, and a world championship title in the dual moguls leading up to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. The season also yielded three significant international titles for Bilodeau: 2009 FIS Overall Champion; 2009 FIS World Cup Mogul Champion; and 2009 Dual Mogul World Champion.
2010 Olympic Winter Games
Coming into the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Bilodeau was ranked fourth in the world. Though conditions at Vancouver’s Cypress Mountain were challenging and slushy, Bilodeau executed a perfect backflip and flawless run through the moguls. He scored 26.75 points and unseated the reigning Olympic champion, ex-patriate Canadian Dale Begg-Smith, who was competing for Australia. Bilodeau’s victory was the first time a Canadian athlete won an Olympic gold medal on home soil. It was also Canada’s first Olympic gold in moguls since Jean-Luc Brassard’s win in 1994. In addition to Brassard, Bilodeau cited his brother Frédéric as one of his greatest inspirations.
In the four years between the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Bilodeau won two world championships in dual moguls: in Deer Valley, Utah, in 2011; and in Voss, Norway, in 2013. He also had continued success in moguls; he won two silver medals at the world championships and was second on the World Cup circuit in 2011 and 2013.
Heading into the 2014 calendar year, Bilodeau was not favoured to defend his Olympic gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. The world’s top mogulist at the time was another skier from Quebec, Mikaël Kingsbury. He was the reigning world champion, World Cup champion, and winner of the first three World Cup competitions of the 2013–14 season. At a World Cup in Calgary on 4 January 2014, Bilodeau was disappointed that he finished 1.74 points behind Kingsbury and thought he deserved a better score. Kingsbury bested Bilodeau again five days later in Deer Valley, Utah.
The turning point in Bilodeau’s season came on 11 January 2014; he beat Kingsbury by a narrow seven one-hundredths of a point to win another World Cup event in Deer Valley, Utah. Bilodeau believed the reason for this success was his ability to execute techniques with a high degree of difficulty, even in qualification (which does not count in total score but determines the seeding for the final round). Bilodeau went on to win two more World Cups — in Lake Placid, New York, and Val St. Come, Quebec — before attempting to defend his Olympic gold medal.
2014 Olympic Winter Games
At the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Bilodeau won his second consecutive gold medal, with Kingsbury winning silver. However, Bilodeau’s second Olympic victory was not an easy one. In the first final, when the field was cut from 20 to 12 athletes, Bilodeau finished in eighth place after a stumble. In the second final, which limited the field from 12 to 6, he was behind Kingsbury and fellow Canadian Marc-Antoine Gagnon. Bilodeau saved his best performance for last. In the third final, he executed a back double full and off-axis 1080 to perfection, posting a score of 26.31 points.
The 2014 Olympic Winter Games was an excellent moguls competition for Canadian men. Not only did Bilodeau and Kingsbury finish first and second, but two other Canadians finished in the top ten; Gagnon was fourth and Philippe Marquis finished ninth. (See also Freestyle Skiing.)
After retiring from freestyle skiing in 2014, Bilodeau became a chartered professional accountant; as well as an advocate for people living with neurological disorders. (See also Genetic Diseases.) He became a national spokesperson for people with disabilities, working closely with the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres. He and his brother Frédéric were Canada’s ambassadors for World Cerebral Palsy Day in 2012.
Alexandre Bilodeau received a Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General in 2015 and a Medal of Honour from Quebec’s National Assembly in 2017. He was inducted into the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame in 2015, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2019, and the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame in 2020.