Bilodeau stands alone among Canadian Olympic greats

Canada's Alex Bilodeau celebrates on the podium at the men's freestyle skiing moguls at the Rosa...

Canada's Alex Bilodeau celebrates on the podium at the men's freestyle skiing moguls at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 10, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE)

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:23 PM ET

SOCHI, RUSSIA - It is a short list, the Canadians who transcend Olympic sport.

There is Donovan Bailey and Marnie McBean. Catriona Le May Doan and Clara Hughes. There are a few others names, but not many more.

And now there is Alex Bilodeau. Alone.

He was famous for winning Canada’s first medal on Canadian soil, at the Vancouver Olympics that ended with Sidney Crosby’s golden goal. Now, a new list of even more significance for Bilodeau: When he won the moguls for the second Games in a row on Monday, he became the first Canadian man to capture gold medals in consecutive Olympic Games in the same event.

One woman has done it: Long-track speed skater Le May Doan. And that’s it. This is the impressive short list. One man. One woman. And to date, no one else. That could change before these Games are over, but for now, and for history, this is it.

For her part, Le May Doan welcomes Bilodeau to the club.

“It’s so great to see him doing this,” she said from her home in Calgary.

Le May Doan admitted she didn’t really appreciate her own accomplishment — gold medals in the 500 metres at Nagano in 1998 and Salt Lake City four years later — until she started watching others attempt it in other sports, and saw them come away frustrated or defeated.

“It hit me what I had done and how hard it was during the Summer Olympics in Beijing,” Le May Doan said. “When Adam (van Koeverden) was to be the next and he ended up with the silver. Then, in 2010 in Vancouver, seeing Jenn (Heil) get silver. It really took me that long to get it.

“Before that, it was something I had accomplished, but I never really thought how hard it was.”

Bilodeau said it was about doing everything right for 24 seconds every four years. It’s hard to imagine what this is like: You train your whole life and it comes to 24 seconds — for success or failure. Twenty-four seconds to define your legacy. Twenty-four perfect seconds that mean we talk about Bilodeau for the rest of our lives.

He has earned that rare place in Canadian sports history, even though the medals have come from moguls, which is hardly Saturday night watching. It doesn’t matter the sport — even though Canada is clearly the world leader in moguls at this time — as much as the accomplishment.

It doesn’t matter the sport as much as the history.

It hasn’t sunk in for Bilodeau the way it hadn’t sunk in for Le May Doan.

Do you realize, he was asked Tuesday, that you’ll be famous for the rest of your life?

He smiled and then said nothing that made it sound like he understood how his life will change — or how he will be perceived in the future.

There is a certain mastery to Olympic success that often can’t be explained. Some athletes have it in them. Some can never find that special moment for that special day.

Sprinter Donovan Bailey was one of those who was all about the moment. He won a world championship race in Sweden and followed it up by winning gold in Atlanta in the 100 metres and repeating the gold one week later as part of the relay team.

The race in Atlanta set a world record, just as Ben Johnson in Seoul and before that, Rome, set world records before he was disqualified in 1988. You can scream about the drugs he took: You can’t scream about the manner in which Johnson found a way to be best when it mattered most.

The way Bilodeau had to be best Monday night, especially against Mikael Kingsbury, the Canadian he trains with, whom he refers to as the most talented man in the history of the sport. There have been two golds for Bilodeau. There won’t be a third.

This is his last Olympics. Moguls was his last event. He thought about quitting after Vancouver but didn’t want to walk away with any kind of regret. So this is it.

His name in the history books. All these Olympics, all these Canadians, he stands alone.

So, what’s next for Alex Bilodeau?

“I’m going to be an accountant, a boring accountant.”

Can the tax Hall of Fame be far behind?


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