Sandy Brémond is rapidly making her way to the top of the ski cross world. The 17-year-old champion from the Southern French Alps will be a serious contender at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020, where she will make her Olympic bow and realise the first part of a childhood dream.
Brémond’s coach, Bruno Mugnier, tells us about the young champion and the ski cross course that will be used for the YOG in Villars-sur-Ollon. “Sandy took up ski cross in 2017, and her results already speak for themselves. She’s progressing and still has work to do to become the finished article. She has great qualities and a few little flaws that could be costly, but at the moment it’s really pretty good. She’s young and has time to learn.”
He added: “There was a Europe Cup event last winter in Villars. The course is tailored to young skiers – it’s going to be a great race. The slope is a fun one for young age groups. This winter, the race was turned on its head several times – it was enjoyable to watch. In [Brémond’s] age category, there will be a number of young women in contention; all of the big nations in Europe have budding champions who are already well established. If Sandy performs to her best and does what she can to make sure everything comes together at the right moment, it should go well. One of the fundamental aspects for young skiers is for them to channel their energy into everything they need to do at the same time on a ski cross course. And generally speaking, if they remember everything, they become really good!”
A childhood dream
Now in her final year of sixth form in Embrun (Hautes-Alpes, France), Brémond will be taking her end-of-school exams in 2020. She will be dividing her time this season between her studies, training and competitions, the high point of which will be the Lausanne 2020 YOG. Here, we chat to a young champion who is chasing her dream.
How long have you been doing ski cross?
I started out with Alpine skiing, which I did up until two years ago. By then I’d had enough, the atmosphere, the posts… And I just wasn’t getting the results I wanted. So I began thinking about what I could do instead, and it was my mum who said: “You need to realise there’s more than just Alpine skiing – you can have fun in other disciplines.” When I was younger, I took part in the Ski Games in the Orcières Merlette ski resort and really enjoyed it. I finished second in my race, just a few centimetres behind the athlete who came first.
So I said to myself that ski cross could be a good idea. I immediately messaged Alizée Baron [Olympian, member of the French national team] on Facebook, and she pointed me in the direction of a club (which doesn’t exist anymore) where all the young athletes in the Southern French Alps went to ski. Two years ago, I competed in four races with them, including the French Championships, which I won. Thanks to my results, I was spotted by the Comité de Ski de Savoie [the umbrella organisation for ski clubs in the Savoie department] and was selected for courses and competitions. Now, I’m a member of the Montgenèvre Ski Club and I’m part of the elite club in the Hautes-Alpes department, because of my results in international competitions.
What were your most significant results?
I won the French U-16 national title and finished second in the U-18 competition in 2018. The following winter, I won the U-18 title and came fourth in the overall ranking, with three skiers from the French national team, Alizeé Baron, Marielle Berger-Sabbatel and Amélie Schneider, finishing ahead of me. I finished fifth in the Europe Cup in Val Thorens, and first in the U-18 category. In March 2019, I came 12th in the Junior World Championships, but first in my age category.
And now here you are ready to compete in the Lausanne 2020 YOG!
Ever since I was young, my dream has been to bring home a medal from the Olympic Winter Games. When I was six, Pierre Vaultier won his first snowboard title at the Winter Olympics, and his ski resort in Serre-Chevalier organised a celebration for his return. I saw his medal and I said to my parents: “One day, I’ll bring home an Olympic medal.” When I found out I was probably going to compete in the YOG, I said to myself that this was what I wanted to do with my life! My goal is to finish in the top three in Villars-sur-Ollon, where the YOG ski cross events will be held. And, depending on my results, my [long-term] goal is to take part in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. I’d like to go as far as possible in ski cross and achieve my dream of winning an Olympic medal.
Have you been inspired by other athletes?
Alizée Baron first of all – I’d like to have the same career as her – and also Marielle Berger Sabbatel; two of the girls who ski in the French national team. They’re my role models, and they’re both really approachable. I train with them, and they’re always happy to come and see me and give me advice. I’d also like to have as long a career as Ophélie David, who competed in the 2018 Winter Games at the age of 41.
What are you expecting from the 2020 YOG?
First and foremost, to have fun, because that’s the reason I do this sport, for the enjoyment. And the YOG will give me extra experience. Last year, I learnt a lot at the Junior World Championships; I’d never been part of such a big event before, and I loved it. The YOG will be even more special for me, as they mean getting closer and closer to my dream. Winning an Olympic medal is both my sporting ambition and my childhood dream.