Nathan Thebaud: youth take flight!

The newly crowned Junior Big Air champion of France goes by the name of Nathan Thebaud and skis on the Captis. A Breton by birth, Nathan found himself parachuted into the Alps at the end of his childhood. A member of La Plagne’s Club des Sports in the freestyle section from 11 years old, the young pretender has really grown up and now trains with the best of the French riders travelling from snowpark to snowpark in search of the perfect trick.

Black Crows : how did your winter go?

Nathan : At the start I saw this season as a transition winter because I just kept getting hurt. It was tough, I broke my ankle in July 2017 then as soon as I got back on my skis I tore the anterior cruciate ligament and fractured the meniscus in my left knee. I had a one-year break and only started skiing again last summer.
So for this winter my only goal was to get back to national level. That wasn’t easy. I had a lot of trouble at the start of the season. My mental game wasn’t there, I couldn’t put down my runs and then I hurt my knee again! 3 weeks of compulsory rest in the middle of the season. Luckily, after this little mishap, my return to skiing went super well. Confidence returned and I posted a series of good results in competitions: 5th in the FIS in Val Thorens, 4th in the Europa Cup in Livigno, 5th in the French nationals in Avoriaz, 4th in the Big Air in Les Arcs and Junior Champion of France in Big Air.

Black Crows: Who do you train with? What structure are you in?

Nathan: I’m a licence holder of the La Plagne Club des Sports. That’s my childhood club and I’m enormously indebted to them but now I train all-year-round with the Comité de Ski de Savoie. Life with the Comité is going really well. The group is made up of incredible people and the coach, Flo Cuvilier, is superb. We push each other beyond our comfort zones to keep improving. Sometimes I also train with the Federation Française de Ski when we have training together. That creates a healthy rivalry. Being gathered together always brings out extra motivation.

Black Crows: You recently became French Junior Big Air champion, bravo. How do you see the future of freestyle skiing in France?

Nathan: Yes indeed, on April 17th I became French Big Air champion. It was a nice surprise to end the season on such a good performance. It’s brought me back to full self-confidence and given me more motivation than ever for next year!
I see a bright future for French Freestyle skiing. The more seasons that go by, the higher the standard gets. We are continually more prominent on the European stage. This year, France even took home the prize for best nation on the Europa Cup Slopestyle circuit. I hope we can one day win the international prize. However, we do lack the training facilities compared to other countries and we have to travel a lot to go and ride good snowparks.

Black Crows: Do you think that young guns like you can succeed on the international stage?

Nathan: Sure, you just have to have unfaltering desire and put your all into every training session!

Black Crows: Have you learned some new tricks? What was your Banger of the winter?

Nathan: Despite my setbacks, I did improve quite a bit this winter. I learned 2 new tricks: a switch unat double cork 900 safety (I now have to work on it with a new grab) and the switch double cork 1080 mute (à la Henrik Harlaut).
I also improved lots of other tricks like my unat rodeo 900 mute and my double bio 1080 safety. My banger of the winter was definitely the switch double cork 1080 mute, which put me through to the finals of lots of competitions. It looks a lot like Harlaut’s one and goes down well with judges and on film.

Black Crows: Has your status as pro rider helped you conquer the hearts of the ladies?

Nathan: I don’t know if it attracts girls but I do think being a pro rider helps pick up some of the slack! Haha! Skiing is a passion that takes up almost all of my time so I’m not really focussing on girls at the moment.

Black Crows: What are your plans for the summer?

Nathan: This summer’s plan is a bit less fun, I’m going to have to do my BAC then start my physical preparation to keep fit for next season. Once my BAC is in the bag I’m going to celebrate in Hossegor with some friends. I’d also like to learn how to surf properly and go around Spain…Two months of holiday before training starts in September.

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