Bilodeau brings gold medal magic to Whistler 

Freestyle moguls skier hopes to inspire kids as he was inspired here

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For the last four years Alex Bilodeau has been putting off a request from John Smart to come to Whistler and coach kids at his ski camp.

But then, he had a good excuse after all.

The skier was singularly focused on his freestyle moguls training, a member of Canada's national team trying to make the top of the podium.

Now he's proven he's the best in the world.

And after winning Canada's first gold medal in the 2010 Olympics - the first Canadian to win a gold medal in an Olympics held in Canada - Bilodeau wants to give back to something that put him on his path to success.

"Now it's time for me to take a week off of training this summer to go and have fun with kids in Whistler," said Bilodeau, on route to a meeting, followed by a dinner and then a gala event.

"I was there when I was young... and I really feel like I need to give back."

The 22 year old arrives to teach a week-long course at the beginning of July, and while he won't be here to celebrate at Whistler's post-Olympic party on Canada Day he will be here to inspire a host of young kids, one of whom may go on to become a future Olympic champion like himself.

Bilodeau first came to John Smart's Momentum Ski Camps when he was just nine years old. He would spend a week on the Blackcomb Glacier learning from some of the best moguls skiers in the world, among them Smart himself, a two-time Olympian.

He kept coming back for five years. But never in his wildest dreams did that young Bilodeau imagine that he would one day be an Olympic gold medalist, representing his country and becoming a household name overnight.

"Oh no, never, definitely not," he said.

"You do it as a passion and you don't believe that you can become an Olympic champion."

And so, he put his head down and worked, focusing on one season at a time and improving his results.

"One day you open your eyes and you're on top and you're at the Olympic Games and you've won," said Bilodeau.

That's the down-to-earth attitude that won Canada's heart on Feb. 15 and set the nation to believing that these were indeed Canada's Games to win.

When asked what he wants to teach the kids at camp other than technical tips, his answer was quick:

"Just the ethic of work and to have fun and I think those are the two main things. If you can have both at the same place it's a really nice mix for success."

Bilodeau had both when he trained at Momentum. He came to enjoy the summer in Whistler as he "kept getting better at my own passion."

It's those kids, the ones that have the passion for the sport, that have the chance to go on to become future champions, he said.

He hopes his win will give kids the kind of inspiration that will keep them motivated to stick with the sport.

"I just hope I can inspire kids... and if I can inspire one kid in Canada to make freestyle skiing and to do physical exercise, it's already a win for me. I think that's the most important thing I can give back to my sport.

"I've been inspired. I've received so much from moguls skiing, from that sport and from sports in general. Kids can really find themselves really early in their lives and have a great teenage life. Freestyle skiing is a great sport. I just hope some kids discover that."

 

 

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