Former member of the French mogul ski team and all-round ski supremo, Camille Jaccoux, is a legend on the snow. He brings his epic knowledge to the 2011 Red Bull Linecatcher freestyle backcountry event as a judge this weekend, as 16 of the world’s top riders will compete for the elusive title.
Involved since the inaugural event in 2009, Camille tells us what the secret to success is in this revolutionary competition that merges freeride and freestyle skiing...
How has the Red Bull Linecatcher event evolved to become a better event?
Three years ago it was really a whole new concept for a competition because it is a new way of skiing. All these young pro riders are becoming more creative each year and I can imagine the next few days will see the level getting even higher. As a competition it is a very good mix of some strong freerider skiers, powder skiers and those with very high level of freestyle jumps. In the first year it was in La Plagne and last year in Vars. The competition has already moved forward so quickly and the level of the pro skier has improved so much from one season to the next.
How is the Vars location well-suited to the current format?
To find a good face to create a nice precision backcountry competition is really tough. You have to find a face with a good shape and gradient. It can’t be too steep or not steep enough and the skiers should really seem to not have any breaks in their line. This year we have built some kickers so there will be no breaks between the freeride skiing and the jumps.
How does this kind of course challenge the riders to be more creative?
Before, the competitions were at the top range of the freestyle backcountry skier and so to bring them all together on the same face at the same time was really a new idea. They were really motivated and liked the different, new concept. They definitely push themselves to go further and the level is really high. For me it was also totally new.
Would you want to compete in this competition?
No, I am too old! I prefer to be a judge here and just to ski for myself these days. The new generation of skiers are similar to each other and every season they are pushing the discipline further. They could do that because they have learned about what has happened in backcountry over the past 15 years. They have been watching snowboarding videos and so they did a mix of that and now they try to create something new every day when they are skiing. I am from the generation before and too old for all that!
What do you think about the significance of an event like Linecatcher in the future development of the sport?
It is very exciting for me to see the discipline moving forward and of course I have a big part of my life in skiing. It’s a freestyle sport and all the skiers are training very hard. It may be cool to have a lot of attitude but they are really dedicated. There are some really strong athletes out there.
Who is the strongest candidate for the win here in Vars?
There are different profiles to each skier and as a judge it is difficult to say before the competition who could win. The invitations to the contest have been given out very precisely. All of the skiers are different but they are all strong and have their own style. They could all do something great. Some of them have very different styles in terms of skiing and jumping so that’s why it’s going to be very interesting.
How do the snow conditions have a bearing on the result?
Unfortunately the snow this year is not so good, it’s the same everywhere in the Alps, and they will have to push themselves pretty hard. The snow is not so good so when they are at the top and starting on a face like that is more complicated than on deep powder. It will be complicated for them to check the landings but they are all professionals and very motivated so we’ll see who wins.
How are you challenged as a judge for an event like this?
What’s really exciting about this competition is the new concept and how to find the right balance between a great freeride skier and the guy who can do some amazing jumps with no breaks, something very constant and fluid. Previously there was freestyle on one side and freeride on the other. Linecatcher is truly a mix and for me the winner is the guy who finds the perfect line but who is also very stylish with their choice of line and some big, nice tricks.
Is there a particular trick that will impress you?
The trick really depends on the type of jump and there are so many tricks that I don’t really have one I like the most. For me it’s all about the fluidity between ski, the jumps, the landing and skiing after. It is how it all works together.