Like most people, Alex Bilodeau occasionally wakes up in the morning with no desire to get out of bed and go to work. What would it matter if he just took the day off?
Then he thinks about his brother, and he's out the door.
The freestyle skier from Rosemere, Que., calls his older brother Frederic, who has cerebral palsy, his hero. When he won Canada's first gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Bilodeau dedicated it to Frederic.
"Even if it's raining outside, or minus-40, and I'm like, 'Oh my God I don't want to go train today. It wouldn't be a big difference skipping one day,"' Bilodeau said in an interview during the lead-up to the Sochi Olympics. "But looking at my brother, to be able to give him that chance of being in my body for one day, and going to the Olympics, he would jump in my shoes and go out there and run a marathon. So I'm like 'OK, let's stick to the plan, let's go."
Bilodeau says he feels a responsibility to Frederic to push himself.
"Most of his dreams are not realistic, and when I think about it, I'm like 'where are my limits?' I have remember that," Bilodeau explained. "And out of respect for my brother I have to go after these dreams and to do all within my power to try to make it happen."
Bilodeau will try to make it happen again Monday when he attempts to defend his Olympic title in Sochi.
He has momentum on his side after reaching the podium and all six World Cup events he entered this season and winning the last three.
After a whirlwind 2010-11 season, the 26-year-old decided to take 2011-12 off to focus on school and his health. But in his absence, teammate Mikael Kingsbury of Deux-Montagnes, Que., emerged as the new moguls ace and has become Bilodeau's main rival. The two have been battling it out all season with Kingsbury winning the three World Cup races that Bilodeau didn't.
That suggests Canada could be celebrating another 1-2 finish Monday at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park — Montreal's Dufour-Lapointe sisters took the top two spots in the women's moguls Saturday — and a podium sweep is a possibility if either Marc-Antoine Gagnon of Terrebonne, Que., or Quebec City's Philippe Marquis have a good day.
Regardless, Bilodeau isn't going in thinking of himself as the defending champion.
"The medal I have, it's a medal I'll have all my life," he said. "It's at home. I turned the page three years ago. Every day I'm on the slopes I want to prove myself, I want to prove that I can be the best in the world on that hill."