February 23, 2018

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Philippe Marquis using motivational messages at Olympics after tearing ACL

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of - Canadian moguls skier Philippe Marquis doesn't normally write motivational messages on his gear. He's making an exception for the Winter Games after tearing a knee ligament less than a month ago.

The words 'Keep Fighting' are printed in block letters on his left glove strap. On the right strap, it reads 'What ACL?'

And when Marquis grips his pole handles, he sees the words 'Engage' and 'Fire' on the top of his gloves.

"I think it was really important that I had something to look at to take myself away from thinking about the knee ... I needed the distraction and that was the best thing," Marquis said.

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Canada's Mikael Kingsbury of Deux-Montagnes, Que. jumps during a men's freestyle moguls qualification run at the Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Canada's Mikael Kingsbury of Deux-Montagnes, Que. jumps during a men's freestyle moguls qualification run at the Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

PYEONGCHANG, Korea, Republic Of - Canadian moguls skier Philippe Marquis doesn't normally write motivational messages on his gear. He's making an exception for the Winter Games after tearing a knee ligament less than a month ago.

The words 'Keep Fighting' are printed in block letters on his left glove strap. On the right strap, it reads 'What ACL?'

Philippe Marquis, of Canada, shows his motivational notes he wrote on his gloves before qualifying for the men's moguls at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Marquis earned a spot in next week's finals by finishing eighth in the 30-man field a month removed from tearing the ACL in his right knee. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Will Graves

Philippe Marquis, of Canada, shows his motivational notes he wrote on his gloves before qualifying for the men's moguls at Phoenix Snow Park at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Marquis earned a spot in next week's finals by finishing eighth in the 30-man field a month removed from tearing the ACL in his right knee. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Will Graves

And when Marquis grips his pole handles, he sees the words 'Engage' and 'Fire' on the top of his gloves.

"I think it was really important that I had something to look at to take myself away from thinking about the knee ... I needed the distraction and that was the best thing," Marquis said.

In his first competitive run since tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament, Marquis finished eighth in Friday's opening qualification round at Phoenix Park.

"Whatever the outcome here at the Olympics, just today to make it from top to bottom, that's basically a miracle," he said.

The 28-year-old from Quebec City started an intense rehab plan shortly after he was hurt while training for a World Cup in Utah.

He has put surgery off until after the Olympics and credits his return to determination and the support of team doctors, family and teammates.

A very tight, very heavy tape job also helped.

Marquis felt a twinge at one point during his run down the 250-metre course. He'll get a chance to rest over the weekend with the men's competition not resuming until Monday.

World Cup leader and Sochi Games silver medallist Mikael Kingsbury of Deux-Montagnes, Que., took top spot in the men's qualifying with 86.07 points.

"It's nice to break the ice and do a good run right away, set the tone for the others," Kingsbury said. "I tried to not push hard, but set a good time and not (make) mistakes."

Andi Naude of Penticton, B.C., was second in the women's qualifier with 79.60 points, a hair behind Perrine Laffont of France (79.72).

Justine Dufour-Lapointe of Montreal was fourth (77.66) and Audrey Robichaud of Quebec City was 10th to join Naude in the next round.

"Obviously the nerves were a little bit there," Naude said. "I had to take a couple deep breaths but I have that pretty dialled down now so I want to just continue with (strong runs) as the competition goes on."

Athletes who didn't make the initial 10-skier cuts will get one more chance to qualify. The second women's qualification round is set for Sunday before the final rounds later that night.

The men's second qualification round and final rounds are scheduled for Monday evening.

Marc-Antoine Gagnon of Terrebonne, Que., was 11th overall, less than a quarter-point behind the cutline. Montreal's Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (69.53) was 13th in the women's qualification.

The Dufour-Lapointe sisters did not speak to the media after their runs. Justine is the reigning Olympic champion while Chloe took silver in Sochi.

Before his injury, Marquis was feeling good about his chances in Pyeongchang. He has 12 career World Cup podiums on his resume and won bronze at the test event here.

Now he's not sure what to expect. But he's proud and happy that he's able to give it a shot.

"I couldn't miss the big show," he said. "It was clear in my head I was going to try and do whatever I could."

Marquis finished ninth in his Olympic debut at the Sochi Games in 2014.

"I think I was more nervous to watch him than I actually was for my run," Kingsbury said after hugging his teammate in the interview area. "Phil is one of the toughest men I know. His attitude this week has been amazing.

"You couldn't tell that this guy was missing an ACL."


Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

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