While training with Team Canada at Mammoth Mountain, CA, coaches told Maude Raymond to stop trying to look good. She tried to explain that she was simply working on her tricks, just like everyone else. But Raymond looks so stylish, it was hard for the team to comprehend her style’s authenticity. She says her style comes from doing what she loves and being comfortable with what she’s doing.
“I’ve never worked on my style,” says Raymond. “I don’t copy anyone. I do what’s comfortable and what I feel good doing.”
Keystone, CO. Photo by Nate Abbott.
Those who know the 25-year-old French Canadian skier best, praise her focus, determination, ability and style. A natural athlete, Raymond found success in precision sports like ski racing and diving, but it was freeskiing that brought out the creativity and style that separates Raymond from the pack.
“Maude has always had unbelievable style,” says Dave Pires, Raymond’s first roommate in Whistler. “Her style is her own. There’s no separation between who she is and how she skis, which is so rare.”
“Maude’s style is natural,” says friend Chris Logan. “She is real smooth and skis with great ease. No other girl in skiing skis like Maude. It’s refreshing to see a girl skier who thinks about how she looks in the air and not just about what trick she is doing.”
It was Maude’s brother, Frank Raymond, who influenced the Olympic-hopeful diver to pursue freeskiing. A style master, Frank passed along his strong opinions about style and freeskiing to his younger sister. It was a trip to visit Frank in Whistler that changed Maude’s life forever.
Raymond grew up skiing at Mont Saint-Sauveur—she started ski racing at five years old—but her passion, starting at the age of seven, was diving. She competed at an elite level for 11 years. In 2006, in between school and diving, she took a trip to Whistler, where Frank was living with a crew of freeskiers from Québec, people who lived and breathed skiing. Raymond had always enjoyed skiing, but in Whistler, she fell in love. She never took her flight home.
Keystone, CO. Photo by Nate Abbott.
“That trip just changed everything,” says Raymond. “It sounds cliché, but I found myself in Whistler. It didn’t make too much sense at first for my family, boyfriend, homies and diving coach at the time, but I was happy, and I wanted it to be my new reality. Everyone had love for a passion and lived [that passion] to the fullest. People around me finally loved.”
Pires remembers one of his first conversations with Raymond. “Maude’s English was rough at the time, and she really wanted to understand the difference between ‘like,’ ‘love’ and ‘in love.’ After I explained it, she started using the word ‘love’ for pretty much everything. Initially I thought she was mixing them up, but then I realized Maude loves everything. She said she was in love with skiing, and it was true.”
“You can see and feel that love in her style,” adds Logan. “She is always having more fun than anybody else on the hill.”
Raymond sustained her fourth ACL injury last May at Mt. Hood when she attempted a switch cork 7 and knuckled by 2 feet. She got up from the crash and skied straight down to the parking lot. She didn’t want to talk to ski patrol, she didn’t want to talk to friends. She made the three-day drive home to Québec, alone, and went in for surgery the following day. When it comes to rehab, Raymond is a professional.
She worked hard all summer with the best physical therapists and the support of family and friends. She went to bed early, woke up early and toiled every day. This season, she’s going for the Olympics.
“Her constant battle with serious injuries has made her path unimaginably difficult,” says Pires. “The obstacles she’s had to overcome would make anybody give up, but what I admire most about Maude is that she never gives up on what she loves.”
She’ll film all the qualifying contests for her popular webisode series, Maad Maude, which this season will feature more edits and higher quality production. Injuries have made Raymond stronger and more determined, but they’ve also made her resourceful. When Raymond hurt her shoulder last season and couldn’t compete, she started making edits. Raymond says she’s impressed with how popular the series has become.
“I’m really surprised with how many emails I get from people who are stoked to see me ski,” she says. “I’m like, ‘Really? With that edit?’ I’m blown away with the impact it’s had, and I’m impressed with the number of views, but it’s more the kids who come up every day and talk to me. I’m doing what I love to do, and I’m happy it makes people happy.”
When Raymond moved to Breckenridge last season, she became friends and ski partners with Keri Herman. Herman says Raymond’s creative approach has opened her eyes to new possibilities. But Herman appreciates Raymond’s character as much as her skiing. “She treats you like you’re her best friend she hasn’t seen in a million years,” says Herman. “When she’s around, you feel special. She’s dedicated and determined, but she’s also upbeat, positive, fun. She’s just a really great person to be around.”
“Whatever she does, no amount of success would surprise me,” says Pires. “I always believed she was going to be the best female park skier in the world, and I still don’t think anybody skis park with as much style as Maude.”
Olympic Issue Download: This information was originally presented in Freeskier’s special edition, 2014 Olympic issue, available on iTunes beginning January 14. The Olympic issue will also be available on newsstands, as of the same date.