Winter has arrived in les Contamines-Montjoie. As walkers hurry past each other in the busy snow covered streets of the village the regulars head towards the Rhodos bar, a popular venue for local sportsmen and women.
It was here that I met Noelic, a young athlete, just 17 years of age, who recently joined the French Junior Ski Jumping team.
Ski jumping is a tradition in les Contamines-Montjoie and according to his mother Gaëlle, secretary of the local Ski Club since 1999, he got hooked on the sport at an early age. Not surprising really as his father is the ski jump coach. Noelic obviously inherited his sporting genes! His maternal grandfather spent more than 15 years with the French ice hockey team and his paternal grandfather spent more than 20 years on ski patrol.
Born on 20th December 1997, Noelic grew up in the hamlet of Berfiere, at the foot of Mont Joly, only a few steps from the Nivorin ski jump. A sign!
Predestined to ski jump, Noelic joined the ski club in Les Contamines at the age of 7. He practiced skiing and ski jumping at the time. He had all the necessary qualities to succeed including the capacity to take risks in order to win. Reckless, he jumped without apprehension. He had the desire to perform a nice jump, to improve, to go further. But most of all he took pleasure in flying!
He aquired good results in the discipline and at the age of 13 he opted for his favourite sport and joined the local ski jumping committee. He started to compete seriously and by the time he reached 15 he had already won numerous events.
Noelic, who is your role model in ski jumping, the champion that you admire the most?
A Polish athlete, Kamil Stoch, double Olympic champion in Sochi!
And your favorite ski jump?
The 120 m jump in Courchevel. I love the jump in Innsbruck too!
Your personal best?
A jump of 130 m in Courchevel where we train regularly.
Because as ski jumpers we go to boarding school in Moutiers. Courchevel is easily accessible from here.
Indeed, Noelic’s results and motivation recently gained him a place in the French junior ski jumping team , amongst the nation‘s 10 best skiers in the discipline. He attends the ski-study section at the Lycée in Moutiers, one of the largest boarding schools in France. Preparation for the baccalaureate is spread over four years instead of three, taking into account numerous absences due to the competition agenda during the winter season. Noelic is currently in his third year.
What is your favourite subject?
Sport, but other than that I really enjoy history and geography.
What do you want to do later?
I want to study at the IUT in Annecy to qualify for a career in trade.
Noelic, what is your average day like ?
We study from 08: 00 to 14:30 with a half hour break for lunch. At 14.30 we head off to Courchevel to train until 18.30.
To train on the ski jump there?
We practice jumping and do physical training too – weight lifting, various exercises, stretching etc.
And on weekends?
Whenever possible, I return to les Contamines-Montjoie to ski with my mates. Yesterday I enjoyed the good snow on the Olympic run.
Otherwise, I’m away competing. I compete on the French Cup circuit and in international competitions (FIS), sometimes abroad. A few days ago I was competing in Planica in Slovenia, a place dedicated to ski jumping. The best in the world were there too!
I was selected in 2013 for the FOJE in Brasov, Romania: a competition which brings together the top 4 or 5 french ski jumpers. This competition takes place every two years. Unfortunately, there aren‘t enough international competitions due to lack of funding.
Have you ever injured yourself when ski jumping?
Yes, I broke my collarbone in Poland. This is a fairly common injury in jumping especially if you make a mistake when landing (which must be carried out in the telemark position).
What happens during the off-season?
Unlike other skiing disciplines, there isn’t really an off-season because of summer ski jumping.
We continue to jump throughout the summer . Courchevel even organizes a summer World Cup event. We also do plenty of physical training to prepare for the coming winter and mental preparation to learn how to handle the unexpected, the fatigue and the stress of competing.
What are your goals today?
I aim to acquire FIS-CUP points and go to the World Junior Championships in Kazakhstan!
You‘re obviously very determined, willing and persevering. Continue to enjoy what you do and you’ll get results. We trust you to bring back some medals to Les Contamines and to encourage your little brother Numa, 11 years old and already good at ski jumping and telemark skiing.
So long Noelic and good luck!