Is it the
World Cup Mikael Kingsbury goes big for Quebec.
How Quebec is producing a powerhouse
of freestyle skiers By Sandy Wolofsky
MONT GABRIEL, QUEBEC — By the time the World Cup had blown through here on Jan.
14 and 15, Canada had climbed the podium three times: Mikael Kingsbury, 19, was first in
dual moguls while 22-year-old Olivier Rochon was second in aerials. On the women’s side,
Justine Dufour-Lapointe, 17, was second in dual moguls.
More specifically, the province of Quebec had climbed the podium three times, and it was no
fluke. Scroll down the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association (CFSA) team roster and you’ll see
that 18 of the 21 moguls skiers and six of the 10 aerialists are from Quebec. In comparison, the
32 equivalent American athletes represent 14 different states.
How did one province come to dominate the country’s freestyle tale? It’s not the poutine, a lo-
cal comfort food of French fries, cheese curds and gravy. Instead, it’s a unique mixture of terrain
and tradition fueling the French-Canadian phenomenon. “Small mountains, lots of ice, good
programs and a cultural passion woven into the fabric of a community or region,” says Peter
Judge, the CFSA CEO. “That’s the draw for kids. Big mountains can be a distraction.”
To be sure, Quebec’s World Cup freestyle results have ebbed and flowed over the years. But
the cultural passion for freestyle goes back a long way. In 1977, when freestyle was called
“hot-dog” and athletes competed in all three disciplines (aerials, moguls and ballet) Michel
Daigle built the first water ramps some eight miles north of Mont Gabriel on the shores of Lac