Above her, the peaks are immense. Forget the clouds and crusty snow conditions, Marie-Pier remembers the experience, the foundation for her entry into her new life. This trip into the wild, and all she knows of her native Canada, all seems a little smaller now.
During this trip with her new friends: Frenchman, Vivian Bruchez; freelance Quebecer, Sophie Lechasseur; and American, Forrest Coots, Marie-Pier says she has, “learned so much. It's an entirely new practice with new skill-sets I have to learn. I really enjoyed discovering it in this state of mind, with this great team.”
Discover: it’s been just two years since MP readjusted her approach to the mountains and set her sights on freeride skiing.
When she talks about her life before this, a 10-year career on the World Cup circuit, racing in GS and Super-G events, it's without regret or resentment.
“I liked racing. I come from a family of skiers; my mother coached me until I was fifteen. One year later, I joined the National Team. I spent 10 years racing, and happily so. But after some time, the routine and pressure got to be too much. I was skiing in the top 10, but all I could think about was going home, to Saint-Sauveur.”
But this last year on the circuit also brought on a revelation. On a trip to Revelstoke, a friend led “MP” on her very first ski tour.
“That day I discovered another world. It was parallel to the one I had known, but one I’d never had much interest in. I’d been so focused on my career, I just didn’t have the time to explore it. But this hike opened my eyes. It was so relaxing. All that silence. Experiencing the climb, the sweat. After all these years riding only chairlifts and gondolas. It was so good.”
The circuit became boring. It was May 2016."I retired, got into my truck, and drove to Whistler."
And here it was… fun!
A NEW LIFE
"What thrilled me was the thought of doing something different. To be free to ride when I want, where I want, without any organization behind me. To re-learn how to ski. To go from skiing ice to powder. To learn how to read new lines and terrain. To unlearn the carve and let myself slide. I was so used to going fast, I felt at first like I was idling in all that powder.”
The adrenaline is real. Standing at the top of her line, not knowing if it goes, her heart racing. MP had to forget her past and face a new playground. A playground where she helps define the rules and borders. A feeling of freedom that made her dizzy at first. And then, there’s getting used to new equipment.
“At first, I wanted to have the longest skis, the stiffest boots. Just like in racing. Then, skiing every day, I gradually refined my own style and moved to shorter, more playful skis, and boots that are less stiff and more comfortable.”
THE LAST TWO WINTERS
Over the last two winters in Whistler, MP has wasted little time adapting to her new passion. She’s worked with high mountain guides who’ve taught her how to navigate the mountains and its risks, participated in rescue workshops, and built up a small trusted crew to begin exploring the backcountry with diligence.“This winter, I'm working in high altitude lodges to get even more experience. I don’t want to become a guide, but I do want to have the necessary skills to be able to explore my new playground.I'm taking courses to learn how to be better on my snowmobile.
British Columbia is so vast, and everything is far away, in the heart of the wilderness. I want to ride it all! And I’m looking forward to exploring some filming projects and to just keep on learning.”
Still trying to catch up on time lost. But now surrounded by the silence, the mountains, and the snow so deep it billows up over her knees with every turn…