Queen of the skies.
Olympic silver at 18, gold at the X Games at 19: Mathilde Gremaud is a high flyer on the freestyle ski scene, notching up win after win. She heads back to her home region of La Gruyère to rest and recharge her batteries ahead of these victories.
The ski resort of La Berra belongs to the small village of La Roche, situated on the banks of Lake Gruyère, around 20 kilometres south of Fribourg. The small resort boasts unparalleled views extending far into the distance.
The whizz kid
Born in 2000, Mathilde Gremaud grew up in La Roche (Fribourg) and first set foot on skis at the tender age of two. At the age of 12 she discovered freestyle skiing. Before long, she was winning first regional, then national and even international competitions. She is now a pupil at Sportmittelschule Engelberg, where she is able to enjoy and develop her talent to its full potential.
A bouncy ball on skis
It’s almost as if her legs are on springs. As soon as Mathilde puts on her skis, she starts jumping around like a small child unable to stand still. Every bump on the piste is an opportunity for her to throw in a little trick. Just as you think she is about to perform her next jump, she vanishes off along a small forest trail.
Your legs feel like lead weights. Maintaining your concentration becomes increasingly difficult. Four days of training, five hours per day. Then comes the day of the competition. Even the best freestylers in the world find the prestigious X Games a tough ride. Mathilde began her 2019 X Games campaign in Aspen (USA) with the Slopestyle in the morning, followed by Big Air in the evening.
The first event was a total disaster, and the bitter disappointment sapped her of her final reserves of energy. She had felt so good during the training. Motivating herself again for the evening took all the willpower she possessed. But once on the starting ramp, Mathilde suddenly felt electrified. Full of confidence, she launched herself into the air, pulling off a perfect switch double cork 1080 – a triple back turn with double twist. Gold!
From the valley of tears to the Olympic Games
Two years previously, she went through an emotional time. Mathilde sustained a foot injury that forced her to take a break from skiing – meaning no training and definitely no competitions for the next few months. And all this with the Olympic Games just under a year away. Luckily, her previous achievements were enough to secure the young Fribourgian a place on the Swiss Olympic squad. Once in Pyeongchang, she trained for the first time in months, started her Olympic campaign with the Slopestyle event and – in a fairytale ending – won silver.
Dreaming of skiing from a young age
From early childhood, Mathilde spent every free minute on the pistes at La Berra. The close-knit group of children from the village used to head out together, each taking their dad’s snow shovel with them to create little jumps and then catapult themselves into the powdery snow. The forests provided them with a secret place to practise their downhill skills. It was usually already dark by the time Mathilde returned home, long after the ski lifts had closed for the day.
Fribourg born and bred: fondue has to be on the menu.
Competitions around the globe, school in Engelberg, a night here, a couple there, Mathilde frequently finds herself far away from home. Through all this, her family remains incredibly important to her. She likes nothing better than sleeping in her own bed or cutting a few turns with her mum in the ski resort of La Berra.
The sun is low in the sky. The terrace at the “Gîte d‘Allières” mountain restaurant is bathed in early evening light and the red glow of the setting sun is reflecting off the Fribourg Pre-Alps. All part of a perfect day back home for Mathilde. Sitting down around a fondue moitié-moitié (half Gruyère, half Vacherin) after a day’s skiing and chatting cosily into the evening, followed by the last run back down to the valley, long after the lifts have closed for the day.