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[Editor's note: Freeskiing has always been a sport that's strived to remain unconfined, counterculture and limitless; free, by its very name. This interview series celebrates that freedom of individuality by featuring people in the freeskiing industry who are paving their own way, doing things with their own style. They are the Outsiders. Stay tuned next Friday for the next installment.]
Dressed in all black and wearing a ski mask, Joffrey Pollet-Villard looks more like a Guy Ritchie bank-robbing character than a skier about to drop into the X Games halfpipe. His runs are unconventional. His amplitude is something from the schools of C.R. Johnson, Candide Thovex and Simon Dumont. And his style is in a league of its own. A lightning rod above the pipe deck, the 21-year-old Frenchman, who took seventh place in Ski SuperPipe at X Games Tignes in March, is looking to learn the rules first, then break them.
I grew up in La Clusaz, a small ski resort in France. It's where Candide Thovex grew up, too, which is why I do freeskiing. I saw Candide every day, riding the mountain.
I was doing everything, slopestyle, pipe and everything. But then I broke my leg and I wasn't able to land straight on jumps. It was too much pain for me, so I did pipe and it felt great landing on the wall.
I don't really like dubs in the pipe. There are so many things to do, you can go higher and higher, do something totally different than you would in slopestyle because you have to land on the tranny. I feel good trying to do the biggest air instead of the most spins.
It's not about winning. I'm stoked on this year, because every time I went to a competition, a lot of guys were like, 'Oh, this guy did the highest air.' And they'd share my photo of it everywhere and people would talk about my one hit more than the guy who won.
I don't know about the face mask. I thought wearing a ski mask was funny. It's not to be a gangster. Just for fun.
|French halfpipe skier Joffrey Pollet-Villard in his face mask and leather jacket at X Games Tignes.|
I want to show everyone that the pipe is a nice thing and you can have a lot of fun in it without competing.
It'll be weird to see all of the freeskiers at the Olympics, because of all of the rules and everything. For me, I want to go there and see how we can break the rules.
I like drawing and skateboarding. I've been drawing since I was young. I'm trying to do some graphics and art. I'd like to do something for a brand, find something that helps me express myself. Right now, I do that with skiing.
I'm reading books about hypnotizing. I like weird stuff like that. I haven't finished the book yet but when I do, I'll try it out.
At the beginning of the season I thought, 'OK, maybe someday I want to do the X Games.' When I got into the finals this year, it was a big moment for me when I was about to drop into the run. I'm not a pipe jock, but it's a great sensation when you dream about X Games when you're young and then you get to do it.
Next year, I want to film a street segment. Just to show I'm not only doing pipe. I want to show everyone you can ski pipe and do whatever you want on the side.
My favorite trick is the flat 5. Everybody does it, but it's a trick where you just feel like you're flying. Matt Margetts' flat 5, with the mute grab, that's a good one. I don't want to say a dub, but Noah Bowman's switch dub 9 down the pipe is a sick trick.
In France, we're not as excited about pipe skiing as they are in America. The national team doesn't really help us. We don't have a camp or training. I'm proud to ski for my country but more proud to ski for my resort.
I was on Dew Tour and I was kind of on the side. It'd be big names like Jossi Wells and I'd be on the side. This year, I feel like I became a part of the scene and guys were talking to me and I feel like I'm part of the gang. It's pretty weird to feel that way, but it's sweet.
I try not to listen to music before I drop because it's too much. I'll get pissed and do everything wrong. Last weekend, I went to an Iron Maiden concert. Slayer is my favorite.