Xavier Bertoni and Kevin Rolland check in with the US Open.
XAVIER BERTONI AND KEVIN ROLLAND TALK US FREESKIIG OPEN, WINNING COMPS, AND SAGE WISDOM FOR YOUNG JIBBERS!
Amind a busy tour and competition schedule Mountain Sports International sat down in Park City, Utah with the hottest French skiers dominating the halfpipe world.
US OPEN: First off, many congratulations on your X-Game win Xavier, and your World Cup win Kevin!
Both: Thank you! We are stoked!
US OPEN: Where are you guys from? Are you both from La Clusaz?
KR: Iâ€™m from La Plagne.
XB: Iâ€™m from La Clusaz.
US OPEN: Xavier, how did you end up skiing pipe when La Clusaz does not have a pipe?
XB: Well itâ€™s true that we donâ€™t really have a pipe, actually we do have one, but itâ€™s not great and it is at the end of the season. That is why we always go to Switzerland to practice. We go to Les Diablerets and Laax, to take advantage of their pipe. Kevin and I go there often.
US OPEN: Were you born and raised in La Clusaz?
XB: I used to live in a village 40 minutes from La Clusaz, but now I live in an apartment in La Clusaz. They have small features in their parks, compared to the States, but they are working to improve their parks. It is hard to compete with the US because of their expertise in park skiing. Here in Park City the pipe is really big and has a good shape.
US OPEN: Kevin, did you have a pipe at your home resort of La Plagne?
KR: La Plagne was one of the first resorts in France (to have a pipe), actually back in the day we were lucky and had the chance to ski a good pipe at La Plagne. After several years the pipe was not as good, and the resort did not want to have the pipe as much, but still we have a pipe and that is good.
US OPEN: Did you guys ski moguls or other disciplines before getting into pipe?
XB: I did Alpine skiing at the beginning, but Kevin was really into moguls and he was really good.
US OPEN: Who/what inspired to change over to pipe?
XB: At the beginning I thought it was really interesting because you get five or six hits and its really technical, you start on a curb and you need to know the curb to land in a good place and it is a good sensation because you need to be precise and this is why at the beginning I liked pipe. You spend a lot of time in the air that is why I liked it and why I still like it now.
KR: For me I started doing moguls when I was really young. I competed and did pretty well, but I did not like being restricted to just moguls. What I liked the most about moguls, were the jumps, and that is why I have chose to concentrate now on freeriding. I felt that I identified myself more with halfpipe, you need to know how to ski and deal with transitions and as Xavier said, you feel an incredible sensation doing it.
US OPEN: Do you guys follow the American freeride circuit, because it is so different than the European ski world?
XB: The majority of the freeriding happens here in the States and I feel like itâ€™s an obligation to follow the US freeride. Itâ€™s true that Candide (Thovex) was really popular in France, because he won the X-Games, but in America there are really big names, and I think itâ€™s important to not only compete in Europe, but also the US.
US OPEN: Speaking of big names in freeride, how does it feel to beat two long time dominating riders (Hall, Dumont), itâ€™s exciting that you gave them a run for their money!
XB: Itâ€™s super good for me because we always see on TV at the X-Games the neck and neck battle for first between Hall and Dumont. To see a guy straight from France who gets there and changes everything, itâ€™s pretty spectacular.
US OPEN: You kind of changed the history of the X-Games!
XB: Yeah, that is true. But I have to say I am impressed by Tanner Hall because he is a really good competitor, he is strong and always trains very hard. He had a really good run, maybe not enough to win, but he was happy for me and he is the kind of guy that if you do something good for the sport he is happy about it. I remember on the podium and he looked at me and congratulated me and it was really sincere.
US OPEN: So Xavier, you got third at the USFO pipe last year, was it your first time at the US Open?
XB: Yes, that was my first time, I went the previous year, but did not compete. I was really impressed with the level of competition and that is why I competed last year. I trained really hard and in 2008 I got third! It was really cool that I got third place, and it was a turning point in my career.
US OPEN: It was one of your first big comps in the United States and that you placed at?
XB: Yes. The US Freeskiing Open competition put my name on the map. The USFO made me feel confident.
US OPEN: What are your thoughts on the level of competition at the USFO?
XB: Compared to competitions like the X-Games where there are 18 big names invited, the US Freeskiing Open allows for a mix field of competitors, everybody can compete and the fact that there are qualifiers there are more people and itâ€™s a better challenge to get in to the podium.
KR: There are always young kids (at the Open), which nobody knows and they are super good. Itâ€™s kind of a surprise when they make the podium. I did not compete at the Open last year because I blew my knee.
XB: Heâ€™s back now!
US OPEN: For the US Open, for the younger kids that enter what kind of advice do you have for them when competing against the bigger names?
KR: Be serious, take good care of your health, because we are athletes. Our bodies take hard falls and we need to be able to take it. Donâ€™t think about money or ride for money, ride for yourself and take pleasure in what you do and if you do that, the sponsors will follow.
XB: You have to believe in yourself.
US OPEN: Do you miss French food?
KR: We are trying Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, but YES we are missing our French food.
US OPEN: Shout-outs and thank youâ€™s?
KR: Rossignol, Pull-in, La Plagne, my family, and of course, our coach Greg.
XB: Sponsors: Pull-in, Rossignol, Giro, La Clusaz, everyone that believes in us, my Dad.
Compiled/translated: Estelle Clairoux & Justine Chellel â€“ Mountain Sports International
**Remember! You can still sign up for the US Freeskiing Open at www.usfreeskiingopen.com!**