Canada’s Beaulieu-Marchand wins Olympic bronze in men’s slopestyle skiing
The 23-year-old from Quebec City delivered the performance of his life, after recovering from injuries and a surgery over the past three years.
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Alex Beaulieu-Marchand was standing at the bottom of the hill in bronze-medal position, with two more skiers to come.
He wasn’t worried.
Whether he landed on the men’s slopestyle podium or not, the 23-year-old from Quebec City delivered the performance of his life. It’s rare to have regrets when that happens.
“I landed my run how I wanted and showcased my skiing to the whole world how I wanted,” he said. “It’s just cool that I got the bronze medal.”
Norway’s Oystein Braaten put down an outstanding run to win gold, and American Nick Goepper took the silver, adding to the bronze he won from the last Winter Games.
When this sport made its Olympic debut in Sochi in 2014, Beaulieu-Marchand was Canada’s only male to qualify and he finished 12th. This time, he was joined by three teammates, with two finishing in the top six —Teal Harle from Campbell River, B.C., was fifth; Evan McEachran of Oakville, Ont., sixth.
A big part of why Beaulieu-Marchand was so thrilled about the quality of his skiing Sunday was because of what he had to go through just to get to the top of the course here.
A series of injuries — surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2015, a broken collarbone in 2016 and another knee injury and a concussion in 2017 — tested him physically and mentally. It also meant so much time off snow that some of the tricks he used to win that Olympic medal Sunday are ones that he had rarely practised.
“I was skiing so good today. I’ve never skied that good in my life,” Beaulieu-Marchand said.
And, for anyone keeping track, that was a complicated series of tricks on rail features and jumps that sounded something like this: disaster switch tails to line two . . . right side cork 270 on the hip. . . a left side 450 on disaster, on the down flat down . . . dub bio 10 truck driver tweaked . . . switch triple 12 safety . . .
“The jumps I was landing so consistently, those are jumps that I’ve barely practised. I did more triple flips today that I did in my entire life before,” he said.
And he did it all with a back taped up by the team’s medical staff and a handful of painkillers, his having back seized up so badly after he arrived at athletes village he was forced to miss the first day of training.
“I had such a hard time the last couple of days, months, to put it all together was unreal,” he said.
But he also had so much experience coming back from his previous, more serious injuries that he never let himself doubt that he could deliver on competition day.
“I never questioned it. I’m going to go all in, I’m going to do this and it’s going to work out,” he said, smiling.
“I never doubted I could do it and I’m just glad I did.”
The four years between Sochi and these Games have changed Beaulieu-Marchand in many ways. His approach to his sport, as his coach describes, went from being that of a passionate skier to being a real athlete willing to do all the work it takes to win.
But the core of what drives him as a freestyle skier didn’t appear to have changed much at all.
In Sochi, when he spoke about his failure to land his runs in the final, leaving him last in the field of 12, his disappointment wasn’t about missing a medal. It was all about the skiing.
“I wish I could have shown to everybody what I have,” he said, at the time.
This time, he got that chance.
And, though he insists it’s not about the medal this time either, he’s got plans for what to do with it.
“I’m going to be able to put it around the neck of the people in my life that helped me in my life and in my career. That’s just going to be the most amazing feeling for me and why I’m so happy that I did get a medal,” he said.
“I want to be able to thank these people that have been by my side in the darkest times and the best times.”