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Freestyle skiing pioneer Edgar Grospiron looks back at a historic moment

06 Mar 2015
Olympic News

Winner of the inaugural moguls event at the Albertville Games in 1992, French freestyle skier Edgar Grospiron looks back at that historic moment as part of our Words of Olympians video series.

On 13 February 1992, the moguls venue in Tignes, some 80km east of Albertville (FRA), was teeming with enthusiastic fans, eager to witness the official Olympic debut of the moguls, which had been a demonstration sport at Calgary 1988.

Having finished top of the qualifying round, Edgar Grospiron advanced to the final, where he wore the No16 bib. Prior to the race, the Frenchman was firmly focused on savouring the experience. “I told myself that a fantastic day lay ahead. If I could make each second last a minute and each minute last an hour, I’d count that as a victory,” he recalls.

Exhibiting speed, balance and impressive jumping skills in a technically consummate performance, Grospiron completed his run in 31.23 seconds to become the first men’s moguls champion in Olympic history.

Heavy snow was falling when the gifted skier, accompanied by compatriot Olivier Allamand (silver medal) and American Nelson Carmichael (bronze), stepped onto the podium to take the acclaim of the French public.

“That was extraordinarily intense,” he remarks. “I’m French, the competition was held in France and I’d just won a gold medal. Everyone I knew was there: my family, my close friends. When I heard my name and the French national anthem, and saw the flag rise up the pole, I relived my whole life up to then – all the decisions I’d made and all the work I’d put in that had led up to that moment. It was highly emotional.”

Grospiron was born in the Jura village of Lélex on 19 March 1969, but his family later moved to Annecy, where he developed a talent for freestyle skiing, participating in the demonstration events at the Calgary Games. That experience had a profound effect on the then 18-year-old competitor.

“The Opening Ceremony in Calgary had a real impact on me, just being able to take part and meet all these athletes that I didn’t know, and seeing that everyone was united by common principles and a common dream. There’s a kind of communion that takes place; you can feel you’re part of the ‘Olympic family’. When you’re an Olympian, you only really understand what that word means at an opening ceremony. I felt the same thing in Albertville and Lillehammer,” he says.

A three-time world champion -(in 1989, 1991  and 1995), a four-time FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup small crystal ball winner (in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1994), and a bronze medallist at the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer (behind Canada’s Jean-Luc Brassard and Russia’s Sergei Shupletsov), Grospiron hung up his skis in 1995, following one final victory on French soil.

The former freestyler, who had a black run in La Clusaz – “The Edgar Wall” – named after him following his retirement, has stayed very much in touch with the skiing scene, becoming a motivational coach and management consultant, doing some commentary work on French television and radio, and spearheading Annecy’s bid for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. In 2006, he authored a best-selling book entitled Quand on rêve le monde (“When you dream of the world”).


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