Q&A with Ed Guigonnet, British Ski Team racer

Racer Ready caught up with one of the newest members of the Delancey British Alpine Ski Team, Ed Guigonnet.

What made him decide to join the British team?
Let me first of all tell you a little bit about me: I have dual British/French nationality. My mother is British and my father is French. I was born in France and have lived in France all my life. I am bi-lingual English/French.
I have been an Alpine skier since I was young and a member of the Les Menuires Ski Club since I was eight. For practical and financial reasons I have followed the French ski system up to and including first year FIS.
However, as my aim has always been to ski for Great Britain, I have been as active as possible in British skiing, participating, whenever I could, in the British Championships. (2012 as a mini 2, 2013 as an U12, 2016 as an U16). I was a member of Dragons Alpine Racing club for a couple of years and have been signed up with Snowsport Wales since 2015/16.

At the end of my second year U16, I had a serious accident resulting in severe concussion. This resulted in very little spring and summer training (both sports and skiing) which made the start of my first year FIS quite challenging. It wasn't until the end of the season that I started showing my real potential – particularly in Giant Slalom where I finished with 56 FIS points – but having not performed sufficiently in certain important early-season races, meant that I was ejected from the Tarentaise District U18 team and needed to find another training structure

This is the moment I decided that I should change my FIS license from France to GB. I know now that I have the capacity to go a long way and want to be able to show my full potential without a judgement being taken on individual races rather than my overall progression and potential to progress.

Going back to the question, I didn't decide to join the British Team. I decided to ski for Great Britain, and am proud, since my FIS license change, to have been selected to the Delancey Alpine FIS Squad.

What has the reaction been to your decision from both the British and French?
The fact that I have been selected to the Delancey Alpine FIS Squad means that the British "race scene" have accepted me at 100%. In addition, the British Ski & Snowboard Foundation have awarded me one of their grants. For me, this means that they believe in my potential and are supporting me 100%. Apart from this, I've no idea what the British race scene think. I hope they are pleased.

Vis à vis the French "race scene", it's a little bit more complicated. The French coaches and the Les Menuires Ski Club think that it's a good move for my skiing career. They all believe that I will be representing, not only Great Britain, but also the Les Menuires Ski Club, at the highest international level.

As for my friends, they're happy that I have found a way to continue racing at a high level – I will be doing all the same races as them, like last year. But I think they're a bit jealous too: continuing their skiing careers depends on them meeting specific pre-set criteria, which are un-flexible. If, in the "races that count", you don't perform, then you're out. I'm lucky now, because I wont have this pressure to deal with.

Who have you been training with last summer and how did it go?
Since May this year, I have joined Orsatus, a private, French run, training group based in Brides les Bains, in the 3 Vallées. Early summer I trained 10 days in Val d'Isère: getting used to my new skis and allowing my new coaches to see how I ski.

Then I spent the month of August in Patagonia, Argentina. Training and racing. I really improved my slalom and my giant slalom seems to have continued to progress. We also did a few races. The aim was that my new coaches could see how I react under race pressure and so they can adapt their coaching for me before the winter season starts.

The aim in slalom was to get 2 runs down ! I managed to do this in my last race (3rd U18). Now I just need to go faster! Giant slalom races went ok. I came 3rd U18 in one (would have done much better had I not lost my pole on the fourth gate in the first run !), and 2nd in another. But I confirmed my points from last season, and I skied well.

South America seems to be a popular place especially for the speed racers, did you enjoy it?
As I said above, the main aim of this trip was to create a real relationship with my coaches. A month's training and racing together was important. Also, people think that skiing is an individual sport. Yes, it is, but you can still have a team spirit which helps to pull everyone in the right direction. This is also what was great. We were 16 skiers and 4 coaches of all ages and several nationalities. A real group was formed. This is going to be a real support for all of us this winter.

On the "enjoyment" front. Yes I enjoyed it ! Most of the time we were staying near a small town, El Bolson, and the contact with the locals was great. I even think my Spanish improved (good news for my baccalauréat)!

It was also nice to have the training piste to ourselves. No getting up at the crack of dawn to queue for a lift! In fact, no queues at all! The snow conditions weren't brilliant and 2 races were cancelled due to high winds. But overall, it was a great experience. And I'm looking forward to going back next year.

What are your plans and hopes for the new season?
I'm hoping that I may be selected for the European Olympic Youth Festival in Sarajevo in February, but my major aim this year is just to do my best, have fun and see what happens.

Who do you want to thank for helping you on your journey so far?
I wouldn't have been able to continue this year without my mother contacting and receiving enormous financial help from the following:
Family & family friends and lots of other contacts who have become supporters.
Grants from the BSS Foundation, the charity Skiers Trust and Réseau Ski Partenaires (a French association that financially supports up and coming skiers).
My equipment sponsors : Head (skis, boots & accessories), Shred (helmets, goggles, back protection) and Leki (poles).
And I now have 2 non-equipment sponsors : Free Spirit Alpine (an award winning, Anglo-French Estate Agency) and the Hillary Hotel (a *** hotel & restaurant in Les Menuires).

I am very lucky in all the support that I have received so far. But I can't expect the friends/family/supporters to be so generous next year, so I am looking for more non-equipment sponsors. If any company feels that they would like to support me, please contact me by pm on my Facebook page, or via email : ed.guigonnet.gbski@gmail.com. I can't offer much in return except a BIG THANK YOU and as much publicity as I can (BSS profile bio, Facebook, newsletters etc).

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