Photo credit: VisualBy
Maël Ollivier won the European Freeride World Qualifier series! With only 6 places up for grabs among the world's best, Mael earned second place at the Silvretta Montafon event and a first place finish at the La Rosiere event to take the overall title in the FWQ men’s division for the 2020 season.
Tell us about your career as a skier:
I grew up at a small resort called Val d’Allos located in the French southern Alps. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved skiing powder. As a teenager, I competed in alpine ski racing and won several local and national races. Around age 20, I felt the call of powder skiing and began competing in freeride events. At the same time, I completed France’s ski instruction courses. In the seasons after, I went to Chamonix to discover new mountains, scope big lines, and improve my mountaineering skills. Then I came back to my roots in the South of France, where I live now.
How was your season on the FWQ?
This year was great, I won the Freeride World Qualifier earning a spot on the Freeride World Tour for next season. It’s a big achievement for me as it was the goal I set for this year. Only the 6 best skiers in the world competing on the FWQ earn a spot for the very selective FWT. My season started in the summer, where I grabbed 5th place at the FWQ 4 star event in The Remarkables mountain range, in New Zealand. The trip was incredible and I had a really good time discovering such a beautiful country. After returning to France, I scored a victory in the first European 4-star event in La Rosière, France. It was the first time that an FWQ event was held at La Rosière and everything about it was great. I really loved winning this one; It was great to share it with my friends and family by my side, in my home country. The third and final event of the season was in Montafon, Italy, where I made the podium again, this time in second place.
Maël Ollivier, a skier on the Freeride World Tour. How does that sound to you?
It was a childhood dream to compete on the Freeride World Tour. I’ve watched many videos of Candide Thovex, Seb Michaud, Xavier De le Rue or Kaj Zackrisson competing on the tour. I worked hard for it and I’m really proud to achieve my goal this year. I’m super stoked to represent my mountains, family, friends and sponsors alongside the best in the world.
How do you picture yourself on the Tour next season?
Every day I wake up with the same love for freeriding. I feel like I’m right where I need to be and I really want to enjoy my upcoming season on the Tour. Riding with the best in the world in some of the most famous freeriding spots is really exciting! Having fun, sharing it with friends and meeting new people is #alwaysgoodtimes!
What do you do in the offseason to prepare for skiing?
The pre-season is very important. I need to be sure that my physical preparation is on point. I do lots of specific movements to build strength, agility, balance and power. I also focus on mental preparation, defining my objectives and goals while getting ready to be back on skis. I also like to mix in some other activities to keep it fun, like mountain biking or rock climbing.
What are your best memories from last winter?
Going to New Zealand last summer was a big one, it was my first time there. I was with two friends, Tom Gratadour and Jonas Monnin, and we rented a Camper Van for a month. It was an amazing adventure, I met NZ guys on the tour the last few years and really enjoyed their for life. Kiwi locals are welcoming and it’s been a real pleasure to meet new people and discover new places.
We liked the freedom of the campervan so much that this winter, Tom and I decided to do a road trip across the Alps. Our goal was to go to Slovakia where we had a 4-star event planned in Jasnà, then return to Switzerland for the famous Nendaz Freeride 4*. But after having crossed the Alps from France to Slovakia the contest got cancelled due to COVID 19, so we thought it was safer to shorten the trip and get back to France safe and healthy.