Self-confident and a little “crazy”, Alex Loutitt dives into Canadian ski jumping history

Before she turned 10, Alex Loutitt was “obsessed” with ski jumping after watching the sport at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Before turning 20, the Calgary native was an Olympic medalist.

“I always grew up thinking about winning Canada’s first ever Olympic medal in ski jumping, and the kids on the playground were like, ‘Yeah right, OK, you’re crazy,'” Loutitt said in a recent interview with CBC Sports.

“But I mean, I graduated high school as an Olympic champion, so I wasn’t that crazy.”

Loutitt, now 19, was part of the Canada squad that won bronze in the mixed team event at the Beijing 2022 Olympics.

Days earlier, Loutitt was disqualified in her individual competition for weighing 30 grams too light for her skis – about the equivalent of a bag of chips.

As it turns out, that’s exactly the kind of adversity that Loutitt thrives in.

“I say my brain is like a piece of Swiss cheese. I have a lot of holes in my head and there are random thoughts in those holes, but with a little push it’s just a thought,” she said.

In January, Loutitt became the first Canadian to ever win a World Cup event and finished first in a competition in Japan weeks after returning from a broken foot. Her next competition begins Thursday at the World Junior Championships in Whistler, BC

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She initially suffered the injury in July but was misdiagnosed by doctors as an ankle sprain, which required merely a week or two of rest. Loutitt struggled in immense pain to continue training.

Finally, in the middle of September training, she received the news of a broken bone.

“I was on the hill and my trainer was like, ‘You have to go in … I just got a call from the doctor, you shouldn’t even be walking on your foot right now,'” Loutitt said.

When Loutitt returned to the World Cup in December, Ski Jump Canada was hoping for a top 15 finish. Instead, she finished fourth, missing the podium by 0.4 points.

“The last session I had before I started again was awful, so bad. But I’m the kind of person who jumps better in competition, so I was hungry and wanted to do well, and it was just such a small thing that needed to be changed that made a big difference,” she said.

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Hidden Medal

It’s that confident attitude that brought Loutitt to Canadian ski jumping history around the same time she might have decided to go to university.

CBC Sports ski jumping analyst Rob Keith said confidence is key to Loutitt’s long-term success.

“It’s a mental game and you could find success early in your career and then struggle to keep it or find it again later. But I think she has all the great building blocks for someone to do that,” he said.

He added that their consistent starts have catapulted them into the top league of the sport.

“That’s the key component to a good jump, that tenth of a second… and making sure all the angles of your body are correct [while] drive at 90 km/h. It’s quite complex, but her consistency in it right now is really where her talent lies,” he said.

Loutitt was born into ski jumping with confidence. Usually young skiers start with lower starting gates and gradually move up the hill. Instead, a coach immediately sent Loutitt to the top goal.

Now she walks around with a Superman sock equipped with a sewn-in tracking device in her purse.

Hidden in the sock? This Olympic bronze medal.

According to Loutitt, it was the highly decorated mogul skier Mikaël Kingsbury, whom she met in Beijing, who gave her the idea of ​​where to keep her medal.

“I was with [teammate] abigail [Strate] and we were both so excited that our jaws dropped like oh my god,” Loutitt said. “And then after we won the medal all the freestyle skiers left and then he wrote a little message for us and it was one of those moments that like wow he knows who I am. I am overwhelmed.”

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“We love the sport”

Loutitt, Strate and the rest of the Canadian ski jumping team are currently training outside of Slovenia, partly because there is only one operational hill in Canada at Whistler.

Loutitt credits the team’s passion in overcoming these adverse conditions.

“The only reason we still do it is because we love the sport and we love the community that we still belong to,” she said. “If you look at other Olympic nations, a lot of them don’t have the same passion as we do and they just have the funding and we’re still out here and we’re beating them.”

But Keith said the lack of home facilities remains a concern.

“It’s quite an interesting story that we’re seeing a lot of success at a high level but at the same time we really need to focus on having a place to train in Canada that allows young ski jumpers to thrive here.”

Ideally, continued success would lead to more exposure and more funding, a combination that could result in a perfect confluence of interests and resources.

All Loutitt needs is that confidence, at least for now.

“I feel like there was never a point where I wasn’t thinking [an Olympic medal] could happen. I’ve always been crazy, so I always believed it could happen.”

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