In Quebec, Maxime, Justine and Chloé Dufour-Lapointe need no introduction. These three sisters won over the hearts of Quebecers as quickly as they won medals in freestyle skiing. It seems as though they have been around for a while and that’s because it now been 10 years since they were introduced as Canada’s Olympic Winter Games hopefuls.
Travelling to experience the great outdoors is a Dufour-Lapointe family tradition. “Winter in the mountains, and summer at the sea,” says Maxime, the eldest of the trio. While their sport takes them all over the world, they have a special place in their heart for Canadian destinations. They told us about their favourite spots across the country for skiing and spending quality time together as a family.
First runs at Mont Blanc and delicious rewards
Mont Blanc, about an hour and a half north of Montreal, is where it all began for the three sisters. “Every winter weekend was like a mini vacation for us,” remembers Justine, the baby of the family. “We’d get up super early and leave Montreal at dawn to be on the slopes as soon as they opened.” They would then spend long days skiing the glades. According to their parents, it’s always a bit warmer under the trees and that’s where you found the best snow. The girls naturally picked up the ability to ski moguls.
Days spent on the slopes as a family bring back fond culinary memories for Maxime: “To warm up at lunchtime, we’d have a hot bowl of soup [...]. And when the afternoon was tough, when Justine was still little and needed a bit of extra motivation, there would be a chocolate egg at the bottom as a reward for every run she did. She got a few cavities out of it!” she adds, laughing.
Tremblant and the World Cup
Tremblant is another special place for the Dufour-Lapointe sisters. Maxime remembers going to the Freestyle Skiing World Cup as a family in 2004. The starry-eyed sisters got the chance to see great skiers like Olympic gold medallist Jean-Luc Brassard on the slopes. Years later, in 2018, they returned to the World Cup to achieve a childhood dream and compete among the best in the world, right here at home in front of their families, on the very hills they had seen their idols ski before them.
For Justine, Tremblant has a story book feel to it. “Honestly, I like to go all year-round,” she says. “In the summer, for mountain biking and to enjoy the beautiful lake. And then in fall, to see the spectacular changing colours.” Of course, in winter, competition is the focus, but she also enjoys soaking up the magical atmosphere of the pedestrian village. And a stop at the Maison de la crêpe is a must at any time of the year.
All three sisters agree that Vancouver, in British Columbia, is one of their favourite cities. Surrounded by sea and mountains, this temperate metropolis has something special for everyone. It was in Vancouver that Chloé, the middle sister, participated in her first Olympic Games in 2010, when she was only 18. Her sister Maxime joined her for this momentous occasion, and together they met people from all over the world who had come to the city to enjoy its electrifying vibe.
Vancouver is also where they land when they travel west to train in Whistler. “For me, the road [between Vancouver and Whistler] is one of the best parts of the trip,” says Justine. “Driving along the water, taking in the spectacular views, and then suddenly arriving in this fairy-tale village with its iconic resort, it’s the dream of every ski bum. It’s crazy!”
Travel during the COVID-19 pandemic
As most travel is off the table for the moment, the girls have been taking this time as an opportunity to explore or rediscover different parts of Quebec. As Chloé says: “When you travel as much as we do, staying home is almost like a vacation! There’s nothing like the coziness of home.”
Justine’s favourite discovery has been Le Massif de Charlevoix. “To go skiing and feel almost swallowed up by the gigantic river before you is just spectacular. And Le Massif has a very natural, environmentally-friendly feel that’s really unique,” she says.
For Maxime, the highlight has been rediscovering the Eastern Townships and the slopes at Bromont and Sutton. She had never really had the chance to explore these mountains, which she says have their own particular charm that sets them apart from the Laurentians.
When travelling within Canada is once again possible, the sisters plan on expanding their horizons. Maxime and Justine dream of skiing fresh powder and hope to spend some time in Banff. Having trained often in Calgary, they have gotten to know Alberta, but they have not yet had the chance to explore this part of the Rockies.
While mountains and ski hills are always on the Dufour-Lapointe sisters’ minds, they also can’t wait to get on the water when summer arrives. They inherited a passion for sailing from their parents, who are avid sailors. This love of the sea is why Chloé hopes to visit the Îles-de-la-Madeleine: “It looks so beautiful! There are so many treasures to discover in Quebec.” With her need for speed a constant, she hopes to surf the untamed waves of the archipelago.
For the Dufour-Lapointes, travel and the great outdoors are just as sacred as family. “We’ve inherited our love of nature from our parents” says Maxime. “We’re grateful that the outdoors are a part of our everyday lives.”