Introducing you to ski mountaineering!

It’s never too late to chase your dream. It wasn’t until I was 20 years old that I discovered ski mountaineering, but that didn’t stop me winning two world titles and being a part of the first team to finish the mythical Patrouille des Glaciers in under six hours. It’s such an exciting and dynamic sport, and I’m so proud that it’s now making the big time at the Winter Youth Olympic Games. As one of your Athlete Role Models, I will be in Lausanne to help you make the most of your experience, and I’m excited to tell you a little about my story here on Athlete365, our community platform that will help you throughout your career – on and off the snow or ice.

  • Yannick Ecoeur is a two-time world champion in ski mountaineering.
  • He will be mentoring young athletes at Lausanne 2020 as an Athlete Role Model.
  • Here, he gives you the lowdown on the brand new Youth Olympic sport.

Just like you may have experienced with your own sport, I was hooked on ski mountaineering from the very first race. It combined all of my passions – winter sports, mountains, and snowy climates. I was very lucky in that the sport that I fell in love with became my career, and I was able to earn my living competing at the highest level. Having retired earlier this year, I never had the chance to take part in an Olympic event as an athlete, but I’ll finally be able to attend as an Athlete Role Model for Lausanne 2020, where ski mountaineering will make its first Olympic appearance!

Get set for ski mountaineering!
This is an extremely exciting moment for everyone involved in ski mountaineering. Our young athletes will have the chance to really feel the Olympic spirit, meet new people, and take part in a global event. It’s a fantastic opportunity for you all. And on a personal note, I am thrilled to have been invited to take part as an Athlete Role Model. When you hear the words „Olympic Games“, it’s spine-tingling.

Ski mountaineering at Lausanne 2020 will put three really exciting disciplines on show: individual, sprint, and relay. In the individual races, you’ll see competitors set off together in a mass start and at least three ascents and descents, sometimes reaching up to a staggering 1,900m in altitude! The climbing demands a wide range of different techniques as the terrain and altitude changes along the course. The sprint, meanwhile, is a breathtaking event that can be over in as little as three minutes for the fastest athletes.

Let’s work together!
Perhaps the most intriguing for me, though, is the relay event. The teams are not only mixed in terms of gender, but also in terms of nationality. I think it’s a fantastic idea because in ski mountaineering at the youth levels, there are some countries that are very strong and some who have had less time to develop. Shuffling the teams in this way means that everybody is on equal footing and introduces a whole new set of challenges that you wouldn’t normally see.

There are a lot of these mixed events at Lausanne 2020, so many of you will have to work with people you don’t know, and who perhaps don’t speak the same language as you. I think it will really help bring out the best in you, encouraging you to work together in unfamiliar circumstances and overcome any barriers that may exist between you to work towards a common goal.

My responsibilities to you
To me, the most important aspect of my role as an Athlete Role Model is to share my knowledge to help you avoid any pitfalls you could face, such as overtraining or maybe being overawed by attending such a large competition for the first time. In these situations, I think it’s best for you to continue your training and approach to competitions in your normal manner. Even though it’s a huge competition, you will not help yourself by overworking your body. Stay calm and focused, and most of all, enjoy the experience.

Stay calm and focused, and most of all, enjoy the experience.

I also think that it’s very important for me to promote clean sport – it’s our responsibility to educate you about the dangers of doping. You are the future of sport and will drive it to new heights, but it should always be in the right way, and I see it as my role to guide you in the right direction. It’s one of the most significant issues facing you today.

Ask me anything!
I find it really interesting to work with young athletes. Just being around you reminds me of how I was at a similar age, the feelings I had going into competitions, the nerves, and the excitement. In my time as a coach, I’ve loved that you are all so inquisitive. Young athletes have lots of questions and look to understand why, rather than just accepting things for what they are. You want to know why we do things in training in this specific way, which leads to really engaging exchanges, and I am more than happy to take the time to help you understand.

If I had one piece of advice for you, it would be to keep that curious nature. If you have a question, ask it. You can learn from anyone, and for me, that’s the most invigorating part of working with young people like you!

In the build-up to Lausanne 2020, we will be hearing from an Athlete Role Model from each winter sport. Follow @Athlete365 on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for the latest updates.