Photography: James Bryant
At the back end of last year freeski God Candide Thovex came to town in time for the UK premiere of his eagerly awaited new movie ‘Few Words’. This documentary style film takes you on a whirlwind journey from Candide’s rise to the top, to his career changing injury and subsequent impressive comeback. Featuring the best stories and footage throughout his career, alongside two season’s worth of new footage, you’d be a fool not to give this one a watch.
Unsurprisingly we jumped at the opportunity to grab some pre movie words with the three time X Games winner, Freeride World champion and all round Freeskiing legend.
So first of all tell us about your new movie…
It took two winters to film the new footage for it, but the movie is mostly a documentary on what I’ve been doing since I was a kid on skis. There’s a lot of interviews and old footage from when I was a kid, to the X Games, to injuries and then my return to the sport.
Did you get to travel around a lot during those two winters? Did you have a favourite location?
Yeah, we spent a lot of time in Canada and also went to France, Switzerland and Austria, but my favourite was Canada. I mean my own resort first and then Canada comes next! I really enjoyed skiing there and the terrain was just amazing. I always say it’s like Disney Land in a way because there is so much to do that you don’t know anymore what to do! There are so many pillow lines and the terrain is amazing to play with.
Did you get much say in the locations that you went to?
No, actually the first year we were supposed to start filming in Europe, but the conditions were really bad, so we were looking at where we should go. Finally we decided to go to Canada and it was really impressive. It was just different to the Alps, because in the Alps you can really get used to the resorts and you don’t need to use helicopters. But in Canada, to be able to film stuff we wanted to we had to use the helicopter and be more pollutive to be able to reach the right lines we wanted.
Do you have a favourite segment from Few Words?
Yes, maybe some of the Canada parts and some of the old stuff, like on Chad’s Gap, good memories!
The film shows you growing up skiing, what was it like growing up in La Clusaz?
Yeah, it was good. This was where I skied for the first time and where I was learning everything. I used to ride at this place called Balme that was just in front of my parents house. The terrain is amazing, there’s a lot of jumps, it’s like a natural snowpark. I always used to ski there with my friends. There is a part in the movie where we explain this and it was really important to me because it’s really different to anywhere else where I’ve been skiing. It’s just one lift and you just ride all day and just laugh and jump and jump and jump…
Was there a defining moment when you started to take your skiing more seriously and thought this is what I want to do forever?
When I was a kid I was a big fan of Edgard Grospiron, who at the time was an Olympic mogul champion, and so it was a dream for me to be able to do something in skiing. I used to do mogul skiing and then finally got inspired by snowboarding and tried to do the same in terms of tricks and the stuff they were riding. So I started doing things for brands and sponsors and moving around. When I was 16 I was travelling so much that I couldn’t work anymore at school, so I had to make a decision to stop school and really move on with my skiing, and this was the moment when I was like ok, this is what I’m going to do.
You first hit Chad’s Gap when you were 16, would you say that this was the moment that got you more noticed on the scene?
Yes, when I first hit it I just did a straight air, but the next year when I was 17, this was the first time I won X Games and the year I did Chad’s Gap again. This was an important moment in my career and really pushed me in the US, it was definitely the launch of my career.
You’ve been out of the contest scene recently. What’s that down to?
In 2007 I did the X Games again and right after it I broke my back. It took me about a year and a half to recover and to start jumping again, so at this time I couldn’t do any contests, it was just too painful. I got back into powder again and started filming, that was the year we did the first Candide Kamera. After this I just wanted to do one contest which was the Red Bull Line Catcher and so I went into that to see if I was still at the level. When I’d broken my back it was uncertain if I was going to be able to ride again the same way, the doctors were not very confident about jumping. But I started to feel good and I went into that contest and won.
That’s when I started to move onto the Freeride World Tour. Finally at the end of the season I had the title of the tour which was when Quiksilver came to me and were like; OK, you’ve done what you wanted in Freestyle and Freeriding, now lets do something new. Lets do that movie. From the beginning they really wanted to do a documentary on what I’ve been doing since a kid. Because it was so great to have my sponsors come and tell you that, I couldn’t refuse when they said we don’t want you to do any contests.
You touched on when you broke your back and how the doctors were uncertain about your future. Mentally did you want to get straight back on the snow or was it difficult to get going again?
The first thing the doctors said was ‘I’m sorry but you’re not going to be able to ski or jump the same way’. Something super hard to hear and something that you don’t really believe. A year after, when I started skiing again, just a little bump in the snow would be super painful and at this point I was like alright maybe they were right, it was so painful I started thinking I would never be able to jump again. I really worked on stretching and physio and I was getting a lot of messages. Because they placed some screws in my back, at the time the muscles on my back were so tight that that’s what was really hurting, so I was working with physios for couple of months to relax those muscles. Then a year and a half later I started jumping again. I have been really super lucky.
Now this project is over what are your plans for the future?
Not sure for the moment, we are still on the promotion of the movie. Could be I want to get back into park and freestyle contests or I used to organise an event, the Invitational, which is something we’re talking about doing again. Maybe going for another movie which would be more focussed on new footage because we’ve done this documentary, lets do something else. Nothing has been decided yet, I just want to get back on my skis first. I’ve been travelling for the tour and partying and so I just don’t feel fit. I just feel like I need to get back on skis and then I’ll see how I feel.