What’s going on with the French Freeskiing Team?

By: admin November 30, 2015

When the freeskiing disciplines of halfpipe and slopestyle became Olympic sports back in 2014, France was one of many countries to quickly develop a national freeskiing program to support its high-level competitive athletes. But little did they know, those freeskiers aren’t always so easy to corral into FIS-regulated teams. After uninspiring competition results and complaints from athletes about coaching, the French slopestyle team is currently in a state of limbo.

According to Fabien Bertrand, the freestyle skiing director of the French Ski Federation, some team members will continue to receive funding, but coach Greg Dufosse, around whom much of the controversy circulated, will not return to coach the team, and won’t be replaced for the time being. For the coming season at least, French slopestyle athletes will be without a federation coach during the competition season.

Quentin Ladame and Hugo Laugier at Keystone. Photo: David Malacrida

Back in June when the trouble first came to light, it was unclear whether the French federation would continue to support its slopestyle athletes at all. “We’re placing the group on stand-by,” said Bertrand at the time. “This doesn’t motivate me to give rights to the riders who messed it up.”

“It’s easy to say it’s someone else’s fault, but at some point you have to look at yourself,” he said. “A real athlete doesn’t find excuses.”

According to Bertrand, Antoine Adelisse and Coline Ballet Baz will remain on the “A” team, receiving support for training and travel to the tune of €12-15,000 for the season. Jérémy Pancras and Quentin Ladame will receive less support on the “B” team, and Hugo Laugier and Nathan Gaidet are no longer on the team.

Jérémy Pancras at the Sochi Olympics. Photo: Ethan Stone

In an interview with us last month, Coline Ballet Baz said that she hopes this break will give the team a chance to get started again on the right foot. But she’s not sure if the riders will ever see eye to eye with the federation.

“If something wasn’t working and we need a break to get back on track again, think it’s a good idea,” she said. “We need more harmony between skiers, coaches and the federation. I’m not happy, but it’s a blessing in disguise.”

Jérémy Pancras had stronger words. “This was my worst social experience ever,” he said. “What they’re doing is so sad for freeskiing and its future that I don’t even want to talk about it. Although the medical staff is the best I could have asked for, and those are the people who know what they’re talking about. They’re not 50-year-old mogul skiers who’ve never tried to understand our sport, and try to make money and fame out of it. I’m done with them and I feel like a ‘free’ skier again.”

One short edit from the team in January: