We caught up with Seb for a very brief chat in Chamonix about backflips, La Clusaz, The Freeride World Tour, and the tantalising prospect of an appearance of one of the most enigmatic skiers on the second leg of the tour.
So Seb, you are the unofficial King of The Backflip, where did you learn to be so crazy?
It started a long time ago, when I was 3 in fact. It was my mother really, when I was young she built me a little kicker, so I guess the backflip came from that – of course I didn’t try one straight away, but it was the beginning.
If I remember you used to ride a lot with Phil Meier and the Falquet brothers, who have also been known to throw the odd backflip, do you still ski a lot with them?
I see Phil more because we are team mates with Scott, but the Falquet brothers not so much. They don’t really compete too much, some people prefer to freeride without competition. They film with friends, but I know them more from the big nights out!
It seems some people have become famous freeriders without actually competing, through segments in ski movies, you seem to have do the reverse and we don’t see a lot of you in the movies despite your fame. Do you think you will move away from competing and do more filming, or do you prefer to stay out of the limelight?
I think I will focus on the competitions for a few more years, maybe when I get too old. Or perhaps if I dropped out of the top 12 and had to go back and do all the qualifying rounds to compete in the Freeride World Tour I would also stop – who knows this could be next year. But I think in either case when I stop I would love to shift the focus more to the filming.
You are from La Clusaz, a town famous for its freestyle so are you the best freerider in your town?
La Clusaz is very famous in France for freestyle. Back in the day we had some of the best freestyle aerialists, and then of course there was the moguls, and a lot of people from my town were world class mogul skiers, Edgar Grospiron for example. Perhaps the most famous freestyle skier these days would be Candide Thovex, who of course was one of the pioneers in the newschool freestyle movement. For me, you could maybe say I was the first famous freerider from La Clusaz, but this really means nothing. If I took you out with my friends, in fact anyone in La Clusaz, you would find that actually they are all great freeriders.
I suppose freeride and freestyle are starting to merge with the likes of Richie Permin coming onto the scene. Is throwing freestyle into lines something you think will be commonplace this year, or is that only for a few of the competitors?
I think Richie is probably the first one to really start doing freestyle in these kinds of competitions, but Henrik Winstedt started his professional career as a freestyler and would be capable of doing the same. The thing is it is different doing freestyle in the park, you can practice on a jump and the conditions are pretty much the same every time. To do something on a face like Bec des Rosses or on the Tram face in Squaw is a different matter. When it is really steep, throwing something off a cliff on the first try is very risky, it is very hard. Throwing technical tricks like rodeos or landing backwards on a steep face would probably be a bit dangerous. I think in general though freeride is definitely heading in this direction. Maybe here on this face (in Chamonix) you will see more. In fact I saw Candide recently and he told me that he would like to try, so if we can organise it, maybe it is possible that you will see him here on the Chamonix leg of the tour – this would be pretty cool.
We are currently in front of the new face for the Freeride World Tour here in Chamonix. What do you make of it?
Actually I know this area pretty well, thirteen years ago I won my first freeride competition here, and last year I won here at one of the Freeride World Tour qualifiers, so I’m pretty excited to come back this year. But the organisers have found this new face, so I guess we will have to wait and see how it goes.
Have you picked a cliff for your backflip yet?
Well I have not chosen my line yet, I will have to wait and see how the snow is for the contest, lines are changing all the time with different snow conditions so we will see on the day, but maybe there will be something…
Seb’s winning run at Chamonix last year
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