Next Generation: Joff Pollet-Villard

Agent provocateur or the new real thing? Leather jacket, balaclava and 8m jumps in the halfpipe.
Joff with his balaclava at the X Games in Tignes, France.
Joff with his balaclava at the X Games in Tignes © Pierre Morel
By Guillaume Desmurs

First, he became known for his leather jacket and a black balaclava. Then he stunned the halfpipe world with unprecedented amplitude.

Joffrey Pollet-Villard, 22-year-old, broke the world record with a hit over 8 metres high. To him, it was more than a show. It's his way of living and protecting the spirit of freestyle skiing.


Freeskier Joff Pollet-Villard sets a world record of height in a pipe.
Joff’s world record: over 8 metres high © Pierre Morel

You got injured in New Zealand a year ago. What have you done since that time?
I took the time to relax and think about my way of skiing and about freestyle skiing in general. This unexpected break convinced me of what I wanted to do: go as high as possible, clean my tricks, bring new tricks to pipe skiing, have creative and original runs. I want to show that halfpipe can be fun, not only a rat race of rotations. Halfpipe riding is not only about competition.

You are one of the few skiers to say that.
Wingtai Barrymore is on the same wavelength. I’m looking for style and amplitude; I’m not working on the technical side, polishing my tricks on airbags. I want the spectators to think: This is beautiful!

Even if I know I can’t get a medal like that. Maybe I’m stuck in the past, but I loved Simon Dumont throwing cork 900 on the first hit… he used to go so high, it was risky and beautiful.

Joff Pollet-Villard at the European X Games 2013
Joff Pollet-Villard at the European X Games 2013 © Pierre Morel

Halfpipe is a dangerous and demanding discipline.
That’s why I like it so much. Being high up there is scary… and landing on your feet is so satisfying. It takes a lot of work to understand how the curve works, how it can propel you into the air.

Since I was a kid my goal was to be at the X Games. I’ve done that, I finished 5th at Aspen in 2013, now I want to explore the other facets of freestyle skiing: urban jibbing, backcountry freestyle… We have such beautiful mountains in my hometown in La Clusaz.

Joffrey Pollet-Villard at the Tignes X-Games 2013
Joffrey Pollet-Villard at the Tignes X Games 2013 © Pierre Morel

Did you think of quitting halfpipe?
Yes. I don’t want to ski like the others, but I want to share what I like, show the spirit of freestyle skiing… that has nothing to do with trampoline training. Halfpipe is not only about double rotations or even triple. This focus on technique will quickly limit our sport and turn into a new version of acro skiing, a discipline now dominated by gymnasts. I ski a lot, I don’t train on trampoline or airbags, I spent time on the snow and that’s how I can jump so high. We are skiers before being freestylers.

Can halfpipe evolve in its format?
Danny Davis’ Peace Pipe or the B&E Inventational are a good example of what can be done towards more fun and playfulness, mixing pipe with modules or rails.

Why wear a black balaclava?
I like the idea of being hidden. I want to be judged only on my skiing.

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