Surrounded by wooden panel walls, oil paintings and the woodfire glow of Covent Garden Hotel’s plush drawing room, I caught up with the world’s greatest skier Candide Thovex on behalf of Surfdome, ahead of the UK Premiere of his Quiksilver movie ‘Few Words’ to talk meeting bears and busting airs...
Hi Candide and welcome to London!
Is this your first time here?
No I've been a couple of times, but very happy to be here again.
What’s it like going to all the different premieres for 'Few Words'?
It’s a great thing – a great opportunity to move about from place to place. It’s a bit tiring sometimes, when they’re all in a row and there’s all the after parties and stuff but you know, it’s good and I can’t complain. The movie is a documentary on what I've been doing since I was a kid on skis and I've seen it many times so I just do my speech at the premiere and go backstage and don’t look at the movie. I just have a few beers and that’s it!
A lot of your other films were stunt projects but 'Few Words' is more of a documentary, do you feel it’s an accurate reflection of you?
Ah that’s a tough question. If a film is done well then yes, but I don’t even know myself. I guess I can always do better. I used to do my own movies in the past but this one is about me and I couldn't just do a movie about me! Instead there are some interviews with people that were with me at really important points in my life. At the end of the day it’s just art for me and watching something that talks about you all the time is just difficult, I've seen it once and that was enough for me!
Did you have much say in the editing process?
Not really, it's mostly the view from the director Matt Payne who has been studying my story and he tried to really explain it the best way possible
Filming every day for two seasons must have been quite intense?
It’s been intense for sure. There’s been some high times, some low times. The first year for instance we were in Canada for two months and only had 15 days of sun which was really difficult in terms of the light and getting the footage. Sowe were trying to make the best of it but it was not that easy because it depends on so many things such as the conditions and the weather and whether I feel good. Sometime syou do something and the shot is missed or there’s a problem with the camera or whatever. It’s not like you can do re-takes you know!
So you visited Canada and Europe to film the documentary?
Yep mostly Cananda and a bit of France, Switzerland and Austria.
Was there any particular location that you have really fond memories of?
Canada for me. The terrain is really amazing for my type of skiing. Pillow lines, big faces, jumps – everything is amazing.
I’d love to go there!
Yes, especially British Columbia, it’s amazing. But you have to use the helicopter to be able to reach all the spaces and be more productive.
You come face to face with a few wild animals in the documentary... what was that like!?
It was good! The wolf was not a white wolf, otherwise I would not be here today! There was a wolf centre and we got the guy to take the wolf into the forest because we wanted to make those shots and it was pretty impressive. I’ve never seen a wolf before or bears. The bears were wild though, they were everywhere just watching. It’s good because skiing for me is more about landscapes, nature and animals. Like I said we’d been using helicopters but it’s not something that we wanted to show in the movie
What moment sticks in your mind as being the scariest moment of the movie?
Two of the scariest moments were not filmed. First I was bitten by a wolf in Canada and then in Austria I fell in a waterfall. I was just in the waterfall for half an hour having a super cold shower under the river and I was holding onto barely nothing – if i was to fall i would go into the black hole under the ice and under a lot of snow so I would’ve drowned for sure...but eventually I got saved. That was pretty scary – one of the scariest moments of my life.
Wow you've definitely had a few touch and go experiences then – you broke your back badly a few years ago, how did that affect your skiing mentally and physically?
It took me a year and a half to really recover and start doing things again on skis. Mentally it affected me at the time yes, but now it’s all good. It’s not that you get more scared of things after that, you just calculate more. You learn how to step back when you have to, when there’s something that you don’t feel. Actually when I broke my back I wasn’t feeling it before I went to go, but I kept going and then I crashed. Now if I don’t feel it, I’ll step back and think ah I'll do that tomorrow, or go and do something else. So it’s not that you become more scared, you just learn how to listen to your body and to calculate more.
So how do you keep pushing yourself to achieve new tricks whilst not overstepping that line?
I think it’s the passion for it first. I think it’s normal that you keep pushing your own limits in sport and try to make yourself better.
What advice would you give to young skiers that want to improve their freestyle?
My advice would be to not focus on one thing. We have the chance to take on a sport where you can do half pipe freestyle and free ride and my advice is to do everything, because that’s what I've been doing personally and I think that every type of the sport is complimentary to one another. The free riding will help you for you half pipe skiing, the half pipe skiing will help your free riding .. A lot of kids today they just stick to jumps over and over, jump jump jump all day and they just do that. And then they’re off to the bar. But skiing is everything, it’s not just freestyle. I understand that some guys that are doing contests that are getting way more serious and they need to focus and train and stuff. But i think the way to progress is to use everything.
So what’s next on the cards for you?
I'm not sure yet, for the moment I'm really focused on the promotion of the video . There will be some new projects but nothing has been decided yet just because I want to get back on the skis first. The tour is good but there’s so much going on and the parties, so I just need to get back on skis and get fit again and feel good about it! My mind will be clear, and then I will make the right decision.
Awesome. Thank you Candide!
Thank you, enjoy the movie!