On the spot
Maxime Dufour-Lapointe was born in Montréal, Canada. She is one of the three sisters who all competed in Sochi 2014. Joining Justine and Chloé, they were just the third trio of sisters to ever compete in the same individual event at the Winter Games. In 2016, she was on the Historical Triple Podium with her sisters at the Val Saint-Côme World Cup.
Why do you think it is important to dedicate one day a year to the celebration of Olympism? What does Olympic Day mean to you?
It is very important to dedicate one day a year to celebrate Olympism. In my opinion, we should celebrate Olympism more than one day a year but it is a great moment to promote all of the values related to Olympism which is participation, respect, inclusion and all those values are all about sport but also about being good to each other. These are profound human rights and human important values. To highlight those values, it is very important to create engagement of our population in every country and acknowledge that Olympism is very important. It can influence all of our youth. For me Olympic Day of course symbolises a day to remember all my Olympic experience but it also means that I’ve got to share my Olympic experience with Canada and my community and I feel privileged to be able to, because I believe in the values of Olympism. Another thing we noticed is that Olympism is very present during the Games which come every two years because of the Summer and Winter Olympics but I think it is very important to celebrate them every year because they do some part in making the world a better place.
You are involved in the celebrations of the Olympic Day in your city or your region. What kind of message would you like to spread to the children, their parents, their teachers and their coaches?
I was involved within an Olympic Day activity with my Canadian Olympic Committee. The NOC makes a great effort and awesome job at reaching out and creating programmes so that they can reach out kids to all across Canada to celebrate Olympic Day but also share knowledge about the Olympics and Sports. Right now they are doing more than 35 events to celebrate Olympic Day and they have been reaching out over 75000 children between 6 and 14 all across Canada during May and June. I was able to participate in one of them in Montreal last June before leaving to Greece.
There were almost 600 kids and the goal was to demonstrate 12 Olympic sports. Olympians were present to show what their sport is about: there was gymnastics, swimming, boxing, fencing, all amazing sports, and the event took place in the National Institute of Sport of Quebec where there are top places to train. The kids could see where Olympians and elite athletes train. Our mascot Komak was there, it embodies a lot of the Canadian spirit and the Olympic spirit. The kids loved it. A lot of them were simply initiated but to see that environment where athletes train is very impressive. At the end, it is all about fun and being active. I would spread the following message to children, parents, teachers and coaches: “sport has been my school of life as an athlete and through sport you learn how to have a champion attitude. Get out there, have fun, you don’t need to be an elite athlete, you just need to take part in an activity”.
How does one continue to embody and carry the Olympic spirit and the sport values as an elite athlete and not only during the Games or during the Olympic day?
The Olympic spirit is so anchored with me that I will carry it with me all my life. In everything that I do, it is very important for me to stay connected with my sport. Every year during my career, my sisters and I organised this open day of mogul skiing with young girls that we called 3DLS camp (3 Dufour-Lapointe Sisters’ Camp). That day is all about skiing with the girls and female coaches to coach the group all day. We get our sponsors involved because it is so important to be accessible. We remember as young kids how Jennifer Heil and Jean-Luc Brassard was such models for us in mogul skiing. We want to give this chance to young girls to spend a day with us, we chat, we just have fun and we share our experience, we have close conversations at the end of day with all of the girls. It is very rewarding for us and we have been doing it for seven years. It is amazing to see that in the first group that we saw, some are doing sport at the highest level, some have decided to follow their studies, others are now coaching, so it is pretty awesome to see that you never know how far your impact is on kids. Olympic spirit and values are just a way of life.
Why do you think it is important for the local population to be able to identify with heroes like Olympic athletes?
I think that every country relates to their athletes and they become, in some way, models for youth and adults even. I take my experience with my sisters as an example: our moment in Sochi where Chloé and Justine won both gold and silver and held hands on the podium and the way we did all the interviews, me always being with them, we showed the world that in nnity you find strength. We have always been very authentic and very natural and we can see that people in the streets in Montreal or Quebec don’t hesitate to come to us and tell us how they have been touched by our story. People say “I have three daughters, they do sport, I tell them about you so that they can get along” or “just like you, they get along so well”, etc.
Population identify with athletes as a row model, we don’t really know how much of an impact it has but we can actually make a big difference. It is essential to stay connected with where we are from: I have always been very grateful I ‘ve had awesome support from where I am from and sport staff and my own Canadian system, it is just normal to sort of give back! We push things forward.
How are you involved with your city/region in promoting sport and healthy lifestyles, beyond Olympic Day?
As mentioned, my sisters and I host this one day ski camp of mogul skiing with only young girls in Québec at the end of our season in April. It has been 7 years and it is important for us to promote our sport. We are also Spokesperson for “Le défi Jeunesse Ste Justine des écoles privées”. Private schools have physical activity day challenge and through this challenge, they raise money that goes straight to Ste Justine’s trauma centre. So far they are almost at 5 million CAN$ raised. With that, Ste Justine hospital is buying machines and they are treating kids with advanced technology and trainings.
This is a great example of how we do get involved. My sisters and I are very present on social media and we love to share our story, it is another way of promoting what we do and when we show what we do, we hope that it gets people want to get more involved. We also love to be involved with the Canadian Olympic Committee when they have events beyond the Games or Olympic Day.
How do you think Olympic Cities and Olympians can work closer together?
It is a great question. Olympians are gold mine of resources. We have so much experience, from our travelling, from working with specialists, trainers, psychologists, nutritionists, we are rich and we all want to give back. Every city should definitely get in touch with Olympians, think about programmes or things they could do to put Olympians into light, use them to inspire the community. There is definitely something to explore. Something I know for sure is that we are very proud of where we come from. I am proud to be Canadian, I am proud to be from the Province of Québec, I am proud to be from Montréal, and I love my city so it is definitely food for thought.
Olympic Cities are unique in the sense that they own a treasure to be valorised: their Olympic legacy. How can Olympians participate in the activation of Olympic Cities’ legacy?
Canada is doing a really good job because we are using the National Institute of Sport located in the Olympic Stadium in Montréal. We are using the facilities that we have from our Olympic Games’ legacy and we help build future generations. We are involved with other athletes to participate in events like the one I went for Olympic Day to show what our sports are like. There are still plenty of creative ideas to develop but Canada is pretty good at thinking ways to get athletes involved whether it is about gender equality, acceptation, sport promoting education, etc. There are a lot of educational resources on the internet teachers can give to their students. Olympians could be more involved with their local school, tell their story, talk with the teachers. We have many stories to tell and it would be nice to work on an idea on how to collect them and share them with everyone. In Montréal, what stands out for me is how we developed the infrastructures from the Montréal Olympics and that is now helping building future amazing Olympians!