As La Plagne prepares to play host to the French freestyle skiing championships at the end of March, we catch up with French freeskiier Marie Martinod to chat about freestyle, favourite spots and recovering from injury...
How did you get into skiing? Forever! I’ve been skiing for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, as soon as the first snow fell in November, we would be out skiing. My grandfather taught me how to ski when I was 2-and-a-half years old!
How did you end up doing freestyle? My parents used to take me to the moguls world cup and I had always said I would do that one day. When I was around nine, I started training at the La Plagne Freestyle Skiing Club, even though I was younger than the others by five or six years! Once I had mastered jumping and mogul, by the age of 14 I discovered the new style of freestyle from the US. I continued skiing and jumping but with different influences… Grabbing skis was all new for me and the boys I used to ski with but it was much more fun and there were no real rules so you could use your imagination to create your own style, instead of jumping and being judged on your capability to do the perfect trick.
What do you like about freestyle? Creation and evolution with no limits - except your body maybe!
When did everything turn serious and you decided to commit yourself to the sport full time? I started to take things more seriously when I started to be approached by sponsors who invited me to compete in the US and all around the world. It was about the same time, when I was 15, that I also discovered that there were girls in other countries at my level that I could ski with. But I didn’t take up skiing full-time until I was finished with my education at the age of 20. Then I really committed myself to skiing.
What’s your favourite riding spot and why? La Plagne of course! I know every single part of the slopes, the forest, the back country but every winter is still different thanks to the weather, the wind and the snow… Lately I have also been skiing in crazy countries like Russia and Turkey with the Oxbow team – I’ve got awesome memories of those trips.
2008 started off pretty badly for you with a serious injury… Yes, I broke my back in California on a jump that was too big and I’ve had quite a few difficulties with fixing it. To be honest it has made me understand that life is long and skiing is just going be a part of my life. Injuries and pain make you realise that there are limits in all extreme sports, if you’re not careful you can do a lot of damage to your body which can be tough to recover from.
What have been your biggest career setbacks? I think I’m living it now, but shit happens…
But on the flip side, what have your greatest achievements been? I hope I haven’t had them already! Ha ha!
Which of your results are you most proud of? My third place at the Winter X Games, because it was only American judges and I made the first MC twist (back full in the half pipe) in girls’ history. And for the record, no-one has done it since I did it… yet!
Can you give us a run down of your average day? Wake up at 9am, huge breakfast so I don’t need to eat lunch. Then skiing from 10.30am until 3pm. I choose whether I am going do half pipe, park or powder as I ski, because you never know what the conditions are going to be. Then when I’m tired comes my favorite part: tea in a pub with my ski gear still on. Then, stretching at home in front of the TV after a great hot shower! And of course, when you live in a ski resort, there is always time for a little party - not too late but enough to still live a 23-year-old girl’s life!
And if you could have the perfect day, what would it include? Snowing while I sleep, then clear blue sky at 10am with 50cms of fresh powder. Meeting with my girls to see where we’re going to build the perfect kicker… then go to do it. Get the craziest picture shot on it. Then sauna and jacuzzi, followed by a great French dinner with good wine and an all-night party back in the resort with some dudes we’ve met on the slopes!
Who do you ride with? It depends on where I am, but most of the time with my friends or some seasonnaires I’ve met.
What effect does your career have on your personal life? Good question… I don’t really know. Maybe the most thing is that I get to meet people from everywhere with different ways of living, so that made me grow up super-fast and understand that there is a big world out there. And now, thanks to my career, I also know exactly what it is to have a goal and to do everything possible to achieve it. I have also learnt the sense of sacrifice on the way.
What do you do when you’re not skiing? Plenty of stuff. I love music, I love to find new sounds, skate, water ski, motorcycle and eating!
Your sponsor Dynastar has launched a new pair of skis this year, can you tell us more about them? The Marie des Neiges skis number 2 are in shops this winter! It is a twin tip ski that can be ridden by either mid-level girls or by newcomers or pros! It is great to have the backing of such a big ski company: it is more important for me than any contest results! After 8 or 9 years working with Dyna, I’ve had the great opportunity to and push the girls in a sport that was previously considered to be for men-only. I’d like to thank Dyna for that.
What are your projects for this year? I just bought a pub in La Plagne so the goal this winter is to make it busy and appreciated by everybody, I’m starting to think about future now.
Quickfire Questions... My three suitcase essentials are… my toothbrush, my sex toy, my cat! The five people I would most like to meet… Michael Jackson, Travis Pastrana, my grand-granddad, Alicia Keys, Patrick Swayze. The greatest moment of my life… will be when I have my first child. My biggest fear is… to lose my sister, my parents or my boyfriend. Life is good when… he takes me in his arms. Before I die I want to… see every single country in the world.
Words by Elisa Routa