Q&A: Joffrey Pollet-Villard on going big, Candide’s influence and La Clusaz upbringing

Comments by Donny O'Neill/

This article originally appeared in the 2014 Photo Annual issue of Freeskier, Volume 16.5. The below interview was conducted in the fall of 2013. Freeskier Magazine is available via the iTunes newsstand.

While the most famous freeskier to emerge from France’s La Clusaz resort is unquestionably Candide Thovex, Joffrey Pollet-Villard has been making quite the name for himself, thanks to a go-for-broke attitude in the halfpipe. JPV turned heads in his first appearance in the Winter X Games finals in 2013, when he launched himself a staggering 23 feet 2 inches out of the pipe on his second run. While his second torn ACL has set him back this season, we’re expecting big things from the young Frenchman when he returns to form.

On the phone:

What have you been up to this summer?

I’ve been in New Zealand for the World Cup, and there I tore my ACL. So I got surgery the ninth of September, and now I’m in rehab.

How’d the injury happen?

At the World Cup in New Zealand, I just landed with my leg straight and my knee went the wrong way, so I broke it. It’s alright, I’ll be back on skis in March but it sucks that I’ll miss X Games.

What was it like making your first ever X Games finals last year?

It was unbelievable because I used to be a guy watching the X Games, and in my first X Games, to get to the finals, I was pretty stoked. I was like, “Alright, this is cool. I’m just having fun and no pressure.” It was definitely big time for me.

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X Games 2013. Photo by Henrik Lampert.

On your third hit of your second run in the finals, you boosted over 23 feet out of the pipe. Does going that big scare you or make you nervous at all?

Yeah, it is kind of scary, but it’s what I like. I think it would be scarier for me to do a dub than going 9 meters out. It’s not really my thing. It’s easier to go high than do more flips.

What goes into choosing the tricks for each run?

I just do all the tricks that I really like and all of the tricks that I want to see in a run, and then I’ll try to do it the best I can with grabs and shit. Just all of the tricks in my run are the tricks that I like.

What moment do you consider to be your big break in skiing?

I think it was when my ski sponsor bought me my first plane ticket to go to the US. I was super stoked to go there. I knew that my career was going to really start then. My sponsor was trusting in me.

You’ve filmed a bit with PVS and Junkies on a Budget. Are you planning on doing any more filming in the future?

Yeah, I will try to film more street segments in the future, try to go out of the pipe and show another side of my passion, because it’s not only pipe. My target is to do something out of the pipe: urban, slopestyle, and backcountry.

Do you have any locations in mind where you’d like to film?

I want to go to Alaska. I’ve never gone there, and I see some of these videos of freeriders in the backcountry, and they look so, so scary but so amazing. I want to go there, and some other good spots in the United States. The urban that I see in videos from there is pretty rad.

Are there any skiers that you look up to?

I like all people, many people are a good inspiration for me. I’ve seen some guys doing some really cool stuff. Max Hill is a good guy. I haven’t met him, but I really like his style. Jossi [Wells] is riding really well, and all the guys like that.

Do you listen to music in the pipe?

At the start but not during my run because I get too excited. Sometimes I’ll drop and get too much speed. I’ll listen at the start to some good rock music, something like that.

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Joffrey Pollet-Villard at Sierra-at-Tahoe. Photo by Nate Abbott.

You have a pretty unique clothing style out there in the pipe.

I just want to maybe change the dress code of skiing. In pipe there’s an original style of big pieces of clothing. I don’t have any clothing sponsors, so I just like wearing what I like. I also like stuff that I wear in the street when I’m not skiing.

In your mind, what’s a bigger deal, X Games or the Olympics?

The X Games is a bigger thing for me because when I was young, I was not dreaming about the Olympics. I was more about watching Candide Thovex and all of the other guys at X Games, and they were so sick.

What was it like growing up in La Clusaz?

It was pretty cool there. There was always good snow, natural kickers everywhere, a sick playground for any kid. You never have to shape anything. My friends and I were chasing and watching Candide, trying to do the same tricks, same jumps. I also grew up with the Candide Invitational. I was 13 or 14 years old, and I was skiing on those big jumps with all those big guys. I probably crashed more than landed tricks, but it was really fun.

Vitals:

Age: 22
Hometown: La Clusaz, France
Sponsors: Giro, La Clusaz, Rockstar Energy, Rossignol
Film Credits: Pour Vous Servir_PVS, In Space_Junkies on a Budget
Results: 4th, 2013 US Grand Prix, Copper, CO; 5th 2013 Winter X Games, Superpipe, Aspen/Snowmass, CO; 7th, 2013 Winter X Games Europe, Tignes, France