ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Alex Bilodeau toiled for four years to retain his Olympic moguls title on Monday but said that was nothing compared to the struggles of his inspirational brother, who has cerebral palsy.
The Canadian embraced brother Frederic in celebration after becoming the first freestyle skier to win two Olympic golds.
“When I’m on my skis my colleagues are my inspiration, they are pushing me every day to be a better skier, to go faster, to go bigger. But a four-year process is very long, and when I wake up in the morning it’s my brother,” he told reporters.
A three-time world champion in dual moguls, Bilodeau sees his brother’s everyday struggle and is in awe of his ability to get the best out of life, despite his difficulties.
“The motivation that he has, if he had had the chances like I did, he would have been four times Olympic champion. He’s a great inspiration, a great person and he’s going to be an inspiration for me after my career also,” the 26-year-old said.
“Every little thing in life is hard for him, whether it’s going from his seat to go and see me here, walking in the snow, it takes so much energy, it’s very hard.
“I always complain, and he has every reason in the world to complain and he never does. And why is that? He enjoys life, he takes the best out of it.”
As Bilodeau performed “a perfect run” to secure Canada’s second moguls gold of the Sochi Games after Justine Dufour-Lapointe won the women’s competition, he said he felt a duty to his brother to make the most of his abilities.
“He has dreams like you and I, he can’t go after those dreams,” he said. “I have the abilities, I can at least try to go after my dreams, and out of respect for him I go after them.”
Bilodeau confirmed that he intended to retire at the end of the season and allow “that kid” - fellow Canadian and Olympic silver medalist Mikael Kingsbury - to take over his mantle.
The Canadian described the four-year struggle since winning gold in Vancouver that led to the successful defense of his Olympic title.
“Every day for the last four years I’ve had a kid right in front of me or right beside me all the time,” he added.
“We were three or four Canadians in the final and I need to thank them, because without them I would never have laid down the best run of my career today.”
Even then, Frederic was never far from his thoughts.
“There’s up and downs, but at least I try, and that’s what my brother taught me.”
Editing by Mark Meadows; firstname.lastname@example.org