Justine Dufour-Lapointe; Montreal;
Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?
I’m an athlete; I compete in freestyle mogul skiing. I’m an Olympic gold medalist, and the youngest women to ever win the Olympic in freestyle mogul. [It’s a family affair: Justine’s sisters, Maxime and Chloé, are also freestyle mogul skiers.]
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to College d’Anjou and did few online CEGEP courses. Now I’m a full-time athlete.
What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)
I got my first podium prize money when I was 16. I was so proud—it was only the second time I had taken part in a World Cup event, which is pretty rare for a youngster. I spent it on a high-quality camera, so I could capture all my travel memories.
What was your BIG break? How did you land it?
I always loved skiing, but I never had a specific goal when I was young. But then, when I watched my sister, Chloé, compete at the Vancouver Olympics, I realized that I wanted to be an Olympian.
Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?
I think it was at my first World Cup event. It was in Finland and I was so excited to finally compete at the highest level in my sport. I remember in my final run I made a little mistake after landing my first jump, but then I manage to rip the rest of my run. I finished fifth with a run and a mistake, so I thought, okay, I must have something that the judge likes.
What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?
It happened after winning gold in Sochi, when I thought everything was possible. That summer, my two coaches told me they wanted to quit and do something else. I was devastated. I had the best team around me, and I couldn’t imagine how I could find something better than this. I had to accept this change and accept it would be different. Changing what worked so well made me scared, but it also meant an opportunity for something new. I really think this big change made me a better athlete.
Name one piece of career advice you always give.
In unity, we find strength.
What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?
I haven’t been given any.
Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?
Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?
It’s not always easy to make a living out of being an amateur athlete, but I’ve been lucky enough to have great sponsors who have been supporting me along the way. However, there is always space for improvement in this area for amateur sport.
What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?
People’s first thoughts about millennials aren’t always the best. But I think that millennials are engaged, passionate people who want to dream bigger and are ready to work for it.