THE FREERIDE KID…Just 17 years old and already the freeride junior world champion, Marie has a determined attitude that makes her seem much older. In fact, if you mention her age, she doesn’t mince her words. “I can’t wait till I’m 18, so I can take on new challenges! In the higher categories, the competition is a lot tougher”.
Marie is always looking to push the envelope. Hailing from the village of Morgins, where skiing is a way of life, she began competitive downhill skiing in childhood. By her early teens, she was already itching to get out of the slalom gates and into to something bigger. The backcountry, with its wide-open slopes, big jumps, forests and chest-deep powder was beckoning. Since freeride skiing is not (yet) an Olympic sport, there was no Swiss Freeride Federation to support a move away from downhill racing, but Marie wasn’t about to let a little thing like that stop her. With the help of her father, who now doubles as her trainer and agent, Marie struck out on her own to conquer the freeride circuit.
Will it make things simpler now that she is the reigning junior world champion? Marie says that she doesn’t make any money, but her new title has certainly helped her to get sponsors. She counts on the Swiss Talent Project organization for training and physical therapy, Head Skis, Picture, the Snowline – M3S shop in Morgins for equipment and All Pride for avalanche airbags.
Is freeride skiing as dangerous as it looks? Is Marie looking for extreme challenges like her local hero Laurent de Martin, who travels the world as a pro freestyler? Or does she hope to follow in the footsteps of Jérémie Heitz from Les Marécottes, who skis the world’s steepest peaks? Marie claims she wants to follow her own path. “Sure, freeriding can be dangerous, but the danger is not the main attraction. I am more interested in the variety of terrain you get with backcountry freeride and not just steep slopes”, she says, admitting that she has a healthy fear of potential injuries that could compromise her ambitions as a skier. It’s clear she’s not just a thrill-seeker, but a serious athlete who recognizes her limits and is determined to progress. And then there’s school, where she excels despite the heavy demands of training and competitions. She’s on track to pass her Swiss Maturity certificate next year and hopes to attend the prestigious medical school in Lausanne.
Marie says this is really the ultimate challenge, keeping up with her sport and her studies.