The photo. That’s what people ask about the most. The picture of my sister Chloe and me, hand-in-hand, on the Olympic podium in Sochi. I had just won the gold medal in women’s moguls and Chloe had won silver.
Although it’s been described as the “feel good” moment of the 2014 Sochi Games, people want to know why I took her hand when I’d won gold and it was my moment.
It’s a strange question for me. I remember so clearly, being there, in front of this huge podium, realizing my dream was coming true. And when you know you’re going to live, for real, the dream that you’ve imagined, it can be really scary. It can be overwhelming.
I turned my head and when I saw Chloe, I said, “I’m going to jump on the podium, but I’m not alone, because we did this together. We had so much work, so much sacrifice, to get there, so let’s enjoy this together.” So I grabbed her hand and it just kept me grounded.
And standing there, despite the chaos, I swear I could hear my family — my mum, dad and sister Maxime, who’d finished 12th — yelling in the crowd.
What does it mean to be Olympic? To me it’s sisterhood and everything that represents. My sisters support me, they help me. I help them when they have problems. We’re stronger together than we are apart. This type of support system is what helps all of us, in sports and in life.
Looking back now, Sochi still seems unreal. I know that without my sisters, I wouldn’t have been there. When you’re the youngest you want to follow your older sisters because you think they’re cool. You want to be just like them. I took my first ski lesson at three. When Maxime decided to compete in moguls, Chloe and I followed. We train together, travel together, compete together.
It hasn’t always been easy. We argued. But my mother said, “Justine, you can have ex-friends, ex-boyfriends, but you can’t have ex-sisters. You will have your sisters for the rest of your life. Don’t you want to get along with them?” And then she told me that if we stick together, and hold each other up, we actually form a triangle. And do you know what? Nobody can tear down a triangle, because it’s a form of support.
Being together in Sochi made it so much easier for me. We were doing our stretches every night, writing in our journals, laughing about our day and telling jokes — it felt like home!
People ask if there’s a lot of competition between us, and the answer is no. I love to be on the podium. But I’m happy when one of my sisters is on the podium. We cheer for each other. We challenge each other, but in a good way. That, to me, is what it means to be Olympic.