Nowadays, new skiers storm onto the freeskiing scene thanks in part to edits released on the web that go viral. Recently a big-mountain web edit boasting a heavy soundtrack and burly skiing made the rounds and left people wondering: Who is this guy? Frenchmen Thibaud Duchosal (pronounced like the Denver Broncos' "Tebow") has been a fixture in European freeride circles for years with segments in European films like "Stratospheric" and "Invincibles," and some success on the Freeride World Tour with frequent top 10 finishes. However, Duchosal has remained relatively anonymous in the U.S. scene until now.
"It's easy for Thibaud to fly under the radar," says Elyse Saugstad, who starred with Duchosal in Laurent Jamet's film "Invincibles." "There are a lot of egos in skiing, but Thibaud is the antithesis of that. He's got no ego. He sees the importance of style and fluidity, and his skiing speaks for itself."
We recently caught up with Duchosal to let him introduce himself in his own words.
On where he's from: I'm from Les Arcs, France, and my home ski resort now is Arc 1950. I grew up in Villaroger, a small village at the bottom of some of the best off-piste skiing you can find in the Les Arcs area. Les Arcs is definitely one of the best places I know. We have two summits offering 2,000 vertical meters without a lift. You can get steep couloirs, big powder fields, cliffs, and trees. The scene is solid -- with guys like Enak Gavaggio, Baptiste Blanc and the Troubat brothers -- and everybody pushes each other.
On his approach to skiing and influences: I have a lot of respect for freestyle skiing, but it's not my way. Maybe because of my alpine racing background, or the fact that I live in a place surrounded by big mountains, but my approach is fast and solid with big airs. Ian McIntosh is a guy I like to watch and Hugo Harrison is my reference. I remember his part in "Focused," it was fast, solid, and powerful with big drops.
On competing: The Freeride World Tour came in 2008 and all of my sponsors were talking about it as "the thing" to take part in. So, I quickly understood that I had to compete. Now, I do love competing. I can [see] friends I don't usually see the rest of the year. It does allow me to push my limits and improve.
On goals for the future: My goal on the Freeride World Tour is to win a stop and finish in the top three overall in the next couple of years -- why not, right? The field is getting stronger year after year, but I'm training hard so we'll see how things work out. I will travel to South America in August, and if conditions are good enough in Las Leñas, I'll try to film as I'm working on a new video project.
On traveling: One of my best trips was to Russia, where there was two meters of snowfall. The good thing in Russia is that there are not so many riders, so you can ski first tracks all day long. Jackson Hole, Las Leñas and Alagna are three ski resorts with big off-piste potential. And, I was in Milan for the Italian premiere of "Invincibles" and received an email from a friend saying Greece got some snow. It was very poor in France, so we bought a plane ticket five minutes after reading the email and we were in Greece the day after. When you think about Greece the first things that come to mind are the sea and islands, but not skiing. And that's funny because Greece is mostly made of mountains. The Rhodope Mountains are well known with climbers and there aren't many freeriders there.
On the different scenes in Europe and the U.S.: The main difference between the U.S. and France is off-piste regulations. In the U.S., in all places I've been, if patrols says it's closed, you can't go. In France, you can go off-piste whenever and wherever you want; it's total freedom. It might be more dangerous for skiers [in France] as they have to get some knowledge about safety, but it also pushes people to be more responsible.