Over the past three years, Kevin Rolland has become the best halfpipe skier in the world. His streak began with a win at the 2009 FIS World Championships; since then, he's won four straight X Games gold medals between Aspen and his native France, the 2011 Dew Tour overall title, as well as a silver medal at the 2011 FIS Worlds in Utah.
But this fall, after skiing for Rossignol since he was 16, Rolland, now 22, decided to leave the behemoth French manufacturer for a much smaller French company, Coreupt, which is owned by one of Rolland's friends, four-time big-mountain world champ Guerlain Chicherit. It was a curious move given how much success Rolland has enjoyed on Rossi skis, so we called him a week after he signed the Coreupt deal -- and the day before he flew to Budapest for a big-air competition -- to find out why.
When did you decide to leave Rossignol?
My contract was up this summer, and I told them I was leaving about a month ago. I was talking with four brands before I signed with Coreupt for skis and [outerwear] on the first of November. It's a big turn for me, but Guerlain is a really good friend of mine, and he asked me if I want to ski for the team. They proposed a good project with outerwear to build a Kevin Rolland collection. I can be really invested on the project and I can do exactly what I want with the design, and same thing for the skis. I'm at the top of my career now, so I feel that I need to be more invested with the project.
You've won so many contests on Rossi skis. Were you worried about switching brands?
To be honest, at the beginning, I was a little scared before signing with Coreupt. But I used the skis a lot this summer to feel confident and see if it was OK or not. I was really surprised about the skis, especially the model that I'm going to ride this winter -- the Caspers, the same ski that Justin Dorey skis, but with my design [Rolland designed a limited-edition topsheet based on the X Games logo]. And I was really impressed with the ski, because it was maybe more performance than Rossignol.
Did you take a pay cut going from Rossi to Coreupt?
I don't have a problem with the money. It's for sure a good check, but it's not only for the check. It's really for the skis and the project with wear.
When was the last time you spent a day on an airbag?
In August in Whistler. We rode the airbag with the French crew, the Freeski Project.
Got any new tricks for this winter?
I didn't land any new tricks at the moment, but I worked to try to start the season with some new tricks, for sure.
I don't know. Different rotation. I don't want to talk about new tricks if I didn't land them yet. I'm going to be in Colorado the 25th of November to start training, because we heard the Copper pipe is going to be built for the 26th. I'm not sure if I'm going to do the Grand Prix, because this season I want to be focused on five competitions: both X Games and the Dew Tour. If I'm ready to compete on the Grand Prix, maybe I will ride, but I haven't skied a lot the past couple months.