The afternoon was drawing to a close on Tuesday in Switzerland when Justine Dufour-Lapointe joined our video call. Music was playing in the background. “I’m just having a little drink, let’s say!” “Launched the skier to La Presse while walking away from the festivities.

The Quebecer had every reason to celebrate, let’s say: just a few hours earlier, she had been crowned freeskiing world champion, ending her first season on the Freeride World Tour in style.

Not only did Dufour-Lapointe achieve her initial goal, which was to live new experiences and put her skis in a zone of discomfort, but she did it by winning.

“I’m a bit in shock. This is all so new to me. It was a very enriching experience, very intense. I hadn’t necessarily set any goals, I just wanted to learn, discover and have fun. »

On Tuesday morning, the skier showed up at Bec des Rosses, Switzerland, for the last competition of the season. Well placed in first place overall, she had made her calculations: a first or second place in this competition would guarantee her the title.

Before the start of the competition, while the Quebecer was in the chairlift alongside the other skiers, the organization of the Freeride World Tour carried out bombing, an avalanche control technique, to ensure that everything be safe for athletes. The village of Verbier, very close to the mountain, had been shaken in the previous days by several centimeters of snow as well as gusts of more than 135 km / h.

During the bombing, avalanches stormed the mythical mountain to its base. From the top of the chairlift, the Quebecer could see the “smoke”. “We knew it wasn’t going well,” she said.

Indeed, Mother Nature forced the Freeride World Tour to cancel the event. Due to lack of time to organize a new one, the world champions of each category were determined by the ranking.

“Of course not everyone was happy, but me, I was like, oh, my god, this is completely amazing! It was quite special, but it was a difficult season all over the world to find snow. We’re just trying to adapt and we understand that it’s for everyone’s safety too. »

“It would have been fun to be able to race, to have the experience, but at the same time, I know I worked hard to get there,” she adds. I was strategic, smart in my choices to ski well. I was super proud of myself. »

A winter of firsts is coming to an end for Justine Dufour-Lapointe. For the first time in 12 years, she did not ski on the World Cup circuit. For the first time, it had to be self-financing. For the first time, she found herself traveling and skiing alone, without her sisters Maxime and Chloé. For the first time, she practiced free skiing.

“I think I went to the strain of the skier in me. I went to discover who I was, who I wanted to be through this experience. This is what brings me so much pleasure and happiness. It’s not so much the trophy that I bring home today, but everything that I bring back as souvenirs. »

Her experiences of the last few months, she compares them to her first season in the World Cup. The 16-year-old Justine was then “amazed” by everything around her. Without pressure, she was “thrilled” to be on the circuit. She felt “alive”.

“That’s how I felt this year, at 28. I never thought one day I would live that, to be back in those shoes, to be amazed by life. Because it is a gift that I gave myself, finally, to live this experience. […] I experienced what I hoped for, yes, but with even better: with the results. With medals. And there, a title. »

The one who has reached the podium 49 times in 117 World Cup starts has also come out of her shell; she couldn’t help but connect with new people.

“It was going to happen, whether it was skiing, in real life or in the job market. There, to do it in an environment like here, it was ideal. I still missed my sisters a lot. […] But I think it has also been enriching for me to live in my own way. »

Dufour-Lapointe plans to spend the summer at home in Quebec before returning to training. It is “100% certain”, she promises, that she will be on the Freeride World Tour next year. After such a season and judging by his smile, the opposite would have been surprising.

In the Freeride World Tour, Justine Dufour-Lapointe receives no government funding; she is the one who has to finance her travels, she is her own boss. The skier found partners, but “it was still difficult,” she says. “I’m happy to finish first, it will help me to get more,” she adds. That’s what I want to do: go get more to get more money, do more content creation, feel more free in my travels. […] I just hope that next year, there will be more people who will want to embark on this trip that I live. »