Cameras from all over the world are fixed on the Russian city, capturing the 22nd Winter Olympic Games. It's 2:00pm. The time of the men's skier cross final, one of the youngest and most spectacular Olympic disciplines. The world of skiing meets the world of pugilism. The kingdom of speed and aggression. On the start line, three Frenchmen and one Canadian. Three teammates, one opponent.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Gate three, in the green bib, Jean-Fred “JF” Chapuis. Clenched jaw, dark gaze, fighting posture. Once he pushes off, the competition takes over, negating any friendships until the finish line. An explosive start, inside trajectory, massive jumps, and maximum commitment. Jean-Fred confirms he’s amongst an elite group of champions who know how to dominate in competition. And after two minutes of intense speed, balance, and precision – a historic triplet. Olympic gold. JF raises his fist in the air, savoring the moment. He hugs teammates Arnaud Bovolenta and Jonathan Midol, who will accompany him to the podium. “To share this moment with my friends and fellow countrymen is a fabulous memory,” recalls Jean-Fred. “But today, reliving this sensation is my only goal.”
“In the aftermath of my title, it was obvious to me. I wanted to repeat with Olympic gold in 2018.”
It's hard to find the earth again. That leap of joy as long-simmering goals are finally realized. Success. Victory. Triumph. It’s a high that many have trouble coming down from. How do you go back into the fight with your goals fulfilled? Where do you find the motivation when you’ve just realized your ultimate dream? When you’ve accomplished a feat that others fight their whole lives for, and most never reach?
“Simple. You find another dream,” says the champion. “In the aftermath of my title, it was obvious to me. I wanted to repeat with Olympic gold in 2018.” And with that, Jean-Fred begins another four-year journey and all the sacrifices it entails. One free of distractions and idle time. Every waking moment dedicated to reaching his goal.
The 2016/17 season ends with another title: overall World Cup skier cross champion. Jean-Fred’ third consecutive since the Sochi Olympics. An unparalleled performance. A historic achievement. But after ten days of rest under the sun, it’s time to get back on snow and begin testing for the coming season. “A process all the more crucial in an Olympic year,” says Jean-Fred. So working closely with the team at Lange, JF addresses all of the little details that will add up to make the difference on competition day. “In the end, the boot is my direct link with the snow. I need a precise boot with incredible power transmission and snow feel. The on-snow sensation my boot provides is my competitive advantage, allowing me to accelerate through turns and veer short on certain trajectories when others pull wider.”
“In the end, the boot is my direct link with the snow. I need a precise boot with incredible power transmission and snow feel. The on-snow sensation my boot provides is my competitive advantage, allowing me to accelerate through turns and veer short on certain trajectories when others pull wider.”
19 October 2017
Perched at 3,000 plus meters, the French skier cross team refines its pre-season training. After three months focused on physical preparation, developing stamina and strength, JF sharpens his focus on the skier cross course and refines his choices. “Throughout the summer, my days consist of two intensive training sessions per day: weight training in the morning, then cycling, running or split in the afternoon. It can wear on you both physically and mentally. Sometimes it's hard to get up. Then you focus on the objective again and remind yourself why you make these sacrifices,” he says. “It’s important to have no regrets. To know that whatever happens, no matter the result – you’ve given everything you’ve got in order to Be One with your goal.”
In order for JF to Be One with his goal, he must Be One with his boot. His time in the Alps is his opportunity to validate all of the work done with his boot-fitters and the technical team at Lange. “The canting, liner, and fit are all confirmed. I'm only left to determine the exact stiffness of the plastic.”
6 December 2017
The start of the season. The first round of the World Cup, at his home in Val-Thorens. Manage the risk of injury to remain in peak shape? “You simply can't do it. The level of the French team is so high that you have to give your all at each race in the hopes of going to the games in Korea. And to be effective now builds the confidence needed if you do get to the Olympics.
Calculate? “It's not a common concept in skier cross.If you commit, you give the maximum and that's all.” For four years. Until February 21, 2018. So if there’s one thing the Olympic and three-time World Cup champion has calculated, it’s the distance that separates him from that deadline, and the goal that awaits him. And that is all.