des Sables in Ste. Agathe, Quebec, in the Laurentians.
Those jumps helped produce John Eaves (winner of six World Championships and star
of James Bond films), Greg Athans, (holder of four overall world titles, two world mogul
titles, one world ballet title; and a competitor in more than 20 World Cup events) and Ma-
rie-Claude Asselin (five-time World Cup champion and winner of 35 World Cup freestyle
events, a record that stood for 31 years).
Jean-Marc Rozon, a student of Daigle, then built a ramp in his Sherbrooke, Quebec,
frontyard. Together with Lloyd Langois, the five Laroche Brothers and Nicolas Fontaine,
they became the Quebec Air Force. Throughout the 1980s they dominated the sport of
Moguls, however, were mostly missing from the Quebec lexicon. “When I was a teen-
ager skiing Nationals, Quebec skiers were the worst!” says Murray Cluff, who spent 11
years on the World Cup and has also coached Olympic gold medalist Jennifer Heil. “They
either fell eight or nine times or took one look at the Mt. Norquay course and withdrew!”
That changed when Jean-Luc Brassard, the Quebecois kid from a 656-foot mountain,
won Olympic gold at the Lillehammer 1994 Games.
Brassard’s victory was the result of the first change in the province’s training structure.
His Mont Gabriel club coach, Yves Therrien, was a student of biomechanics, physiol-
ogy and sports psychology, and the first of the full-timers. In the 80s, club skiing was still
a weekend, on-snow-only experience. Therrien changed that. He brought in after-hour
workouts, plyometrics and running on rocks through riverbeds.
“Yves was a great motivator,” says Brassard. “He taught us how to build jumps, absorp-
tion sites, not to complain and to worry about yourselves, not the others. He helped us
become the builders.”
Brassard had one more advantage. His first years on the national team were heavily in-
fluenced by the final years of the original Quebec Air Force. In those days, everyone got
into the same van on Monday morning and drove to the next competition together. “Those
guys knew they were the best,” says Dominick Gauthier, who finished 17th in Nagano and
became the coach of 2010 gold medalist Alex Bilodeau. “And they expected to win. We
could touch that, feel it, and they were like us. They were also from Quebec!”
Olivier Rochon was born in
represented his hometown of
Gatineau, Quebec, when landing in
second place at this season’s Mont
Gabriel World Cup aerials opener.
Strongest in the World
Brassard’s victory and Therrien’s teachings set in motion the dominoes that have made
Quebec what Hannah Kearney calls “the strongest development program in the world
right now.” Almost everyone from Quebec associated with freestyle has some link to
Therrien, or at least to his program.
history at Quebec’s
Lac des Sables in 1977.