Question and Answer Time with Aurelien Ducroz
- It seems you are always on the hunt for powder. When did you start skiing, and when did you realize that this is going to be also your professional path?
I started skiing when I was 2 years old. My father was a mountain guide and my mother a ski teacher, so it was only natural for them to pass on their passion for skiing and the outdoors. From early on, I knew that skiing would be my future career job and lifelong passion.
- How would you describe yourself: professional skier / freerider, adventurer, storyteller?
Hmmm – actually a bit of everything. I am, of course, a professional skier before everything else, but I am also an adventurer, always chasing new lines and exploring new terrain all over the globe.
- What does skiing / freeriding mean to you?
Skiing is in my blood. My love story with skiing started when I was 2 and it has always been the constant thing in my life. I could not imagine stopping skiing for one second! To me, skiing means pleasure, emotion, speed, adrenaline, surpassing myself and, last but not least, total harmony with the elements- all these feelings at once.
- Everyone has different experiences feeling alive or enjoying the moment. What are the moments you feel most alive on skis?
It is this moment when you reach the top of a line that you have been scooping and looking at it for a long time; the moment when you are ready to drop in, when the adrenaline comes up to the maximum, when there is nothing else in the world, other than you and the mountain.
…and your most memorable #feelalive moment related to skiing?
I have had the chance to experience a few #feelalive moments in my skiing career, but one of the biggest was the final run of the Freeride World Tour in 2011 when, for the first time, I managed to do exactly the run I had planned to do. On that day I was in a perfect communion with the mountains, feeling the snow, the rocks and the environment in my heart and body. Of course, the victory made me feel very much ALIVE, but the strongest feeling was what happened between me and the mountain.
…can you share other #feelalive moments, not related to the slopes?
Again, I had a feel alive moment back in 2011 when I decided to cross the Atlantic sailing solo on a 6,50-meter boat. This experience was certainly the most #feelalive moment of my life. I started sailing only one year before and before I knew it, I was sailing from France to Brazil, solo. Such an adventure!
This was a very tough challenge, stepping on unknown terrain, always having to be 200% focused for months at a time. I was learning every day, trying to be in harmony with this new element – water.
- What did you do this summer; did you get some first tracks?
Since 2011, I have been sailing most of the summer time. I share my year between the mountains and the sea and now, after a busy sailing season, I’m ready for new skiing adventures. I will be heading to South America at the beginning of September to discover new terrain and make new experiences on completely new mountains.
- Now that the European Winter is around the corner, what are the most important contests/ exciting projects you are planning on for this season?
I have been competing in skiing for the last 10 years and have had incredible luck with successfully reaching most of my objectives! I have decided that now I’m am going to focus on more“exploring” projects. I’ll be around Europe and the globe this winter, looking for new lines, new mountains, and new experiences.
- How do you prepare physically for them, do you have a special fitness program?
For the last 10 years, I have been working with a personal trainer. We approach my two different seasons (skiing and sailing) very specifically. In these two sports, your body is taking many risks so it needs to be ready. Otherwise, you have no way to enjoy it and no way to achieve your goals.
- How do you prepare mentally for those projects?
The mental preparation is really different depending on each project – competitions, trips, sailing, skiing… but most of the time it is all about being ready to (mentally) dedicate yourself 100% to your objective – your brain leading your body.
Preparation before going down the line and knowledge of the mountain are two key safety factors in free riding:
- How do you prepare for these experiences and enjoy the best powder?
- Do you work together with mountain guides or ski patrollers?
The trickiest part is being able to read the mountain. It takes a huge amount of time in the mountains before being able to feel comfortable and confident with your choices. This is what we call experience. Even today, after so many good experiences, it’s still very hard to be sure and secure on the mountain. This is the reason why I always work with mountain guides skiing off-piste; they give me their own vision of the mountain and make sure all the parameters are ok. When I’m skiing in a ski resort, I always pass by the ski patroller’s office to get some fresh information on the snow conditions and the weather. These guys are the local pros, they are on these slopes every day and they can give you key information to keep you safe.
- In extreme situations, you need to trust your gear. As a professional athlete, what clothing requirements do you have in order to perform in the mountains?
When you are out there, the most important thing is to feel confident in yourself, which is part of the training, but it is also a requirement of your gear as well- you must trust what you are wearing. The clothing you wear is a key factor in keeping you alive and protecting you.
Out in the mountains, we need to resolve one doubt after another. Being sure that you are wearing the right gear and being sure that you can trust your clothing is key to the success.
- How do the clothes from Helly Hansen support you to experience #feelalive moments?
By having the right gear at the right moment, I can focus on my experience and feelings, making those #feelalive moments stronger and more frequent!
- The ULLR Collection has been developed and further improved with the input from professional freeriders like you. What do you like the most about the ULLR Collection? What is your favorite Helly Hansen product and why?
This collection has been a true success for many different reasons, but of course, as you say, it is certainly because it has been designed, tested and improved with input from pros, who live in these products all winter long, on different terrains and conditions.
My favorite product is the Elevation Shell Jacket – firstly for its shape, but also for its very strong and durable fabric, together with a really well-made cut that gives you total freedom for every movement.
- The Elevation Shell Jacket has won the ISPO and Red Dot Design Award. What is your favorite feature of the Jacket and why?
A great feature is the high visibility details which gives this jacket a very cool look. The Hi-Vis is also an important safety aspect- it keeps you visible in foggy conditions. When you ride with friends, you should always stay visible for your buddies.
The Elevation Shell Jacket combines Helly Tech® Professional 3L fabric with an air permeable membrane and the H²Flow™ temperature regulation system using PrimaLoft® Silver Insulation Active.
- How does this H²Flow™ technology support your performance in the mountains?
What is your experience with the 3 layer Helly Tech® Professional fabric?
When you are a freerider, you need to climb those really cool faces before skiing down them. The H²Flow technology will keep you dry on the way up, which will put you in a better condition for your line down.
Helly Hansen midlayers use patented technologies like Lifa ®Flow (ULLR Midlayer Jacket) and H²Flow™ (Odin Flow Jacket) to regulate your temperature.
- How do the layering options support you pursuing big powder?
This layering system is very simple, but also very important. Each layer will work together with the others. The midlayer will help you regulate your temperature and carry out the excess humidity. When you are out on big powder day, humidity is a key factor. If your gear helps you to stay dry and regulates your temperature, you will have more time to enjoy more powder. I always want more!!!
Since 1970, Helly Hansen has worked on a variety of base layers for different activities and weather conditions.
- What are your thoughts on the Helly Hansen base layer with the Lifa® Stay Dry Technology?
The first layer is key, directly on your skin, keeping you dry and warm. The Lifa Stay Dry Technology has already proven its worth for many years and this is why it continues to be an excellent product, used in all the different sports from sailing to skiing.
- Which products would you recommend to an ambitious freerider who wants to get the best out of his day in the snow?
The product I have been using the most has to be the Elevation Shell Jacket with the Elevation Shell Pant!!!
A taste of pure adrenaline for Aurelien, jumping into a sea of clouds in his homeland in Chamonix.
Aurelien looking the part in the Elevation Shell jacket, part of Helly Hansen’s Ullr free ride collection.
Aurelien performs a perfect back-flip with breathtaking views in Iceland.