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Hab at heart: Alexandre Bilodeau

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

MONTREAL – Since making his freestyle skiing debut, Alexandre Bilodeau hasn’t stopped climbing the ranks, capturing a few World Championships, and reaching the pinnacle of his sport by claiming back-to-back gold medals at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Sochi. While he spent much of his time navigating the twists and turns of snow-covered courses the world over at warp speed in recent years, he always made time to watch the Canadiens play when he returned home. The crew met up with the young retiree to learn more about his love for all things bleu-blanc-rouge.

How long have you been a Canadiens fan?

ALEXANDRE BILODEAU: I’ve been a fan since I was very young. A lot of people didn’t have the chance to experience the last Stanley Cup win, but I remember it well. I started skiing moguls around the same time in 1993. I really started to get involved in sports during those years.

What is oldest Canadiens memory you have?

AB : The Stanley Cup win in 1993. I also remember going to see games at the Forum with my father and my grandfathers. Those were nice outings.

Who was your favorite player growing up?

AB: Patrick Roy was a can’t-miss player. I wasn’t a goaltender in hockey, but Patrick was just so good. When he was traded to Colorado, the Avalanche became my favorite team for a while. (laughs) I was so angry that the Canadiens had traded him.

Did you play hockey growing up?

AB: I played a lot hockey back then. I grew up in that world. My dad played Major Junior. I lived and breathed hockey. I always played hockey outside, and when I was home, I played hockey games on Nintendo. Then, my mom decided to enroll us in more family-oriented sports, so I had to stop playing hockey. I didn’t want to, and neither did my dad, but my mother wore the pants at home and she had the last word. (laughs) I didn’t like it in the short-term, but in the long-term I’d say it was a good decision after all!

We know that you’re quick on skis, but if we ever put you on a pair of skates, would you be just as fast?

AB: When I play hockey, I’m the fastest guy on my team. But, I have to go in a straight line! (laughs) I’m not the most talented player, but I skate hard and I go in the corners.

Freestyle skiing is one of the most physically demanding sports around. At what point is it more taxing than hockey?

AB: It’s tough to compare the two because I never played full-contact hockey. On the other hand, you could be the fittest guy around, but after your first run of the year, you’ll feel it at the end of the day. That’s a guarantee. It’s the same thing in hockey when you might need a few shifts to feel comfortable on the ice. Freestyle skiing is also very intense. A run lasts around 23 seconds. I train with hockey players a lot. For the last four years, I’ve trained with guys like Andrei Markov and Maxim Lapierre. Our workouts are very similar.

The Canadiens-Bruins rivalry is one of the most intense rivalries in all of sport. Is your rivalry with Mikael Kingsbury similar to that?

AB: (laughs) There’s nothing like the hatred between Montreal and Boston. Things are good between Mikael and I. I have a great deal of respect for him. When he’s on the course, he wants to beat me, and I want to beat him. When we’re off the course, I respect him immensely, too. He’s very talented. We’re competing in an individual sport. If I perform up to my capabilities, I can’t wish anything bad on anyone. If I manage to beat him in the process, it’s even more rewarding.

Interview conducted by Hugo Fontaine. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski

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