GAËTAN GAUDISSARD, THE VOICE OF THE ALPS
Dreaming, but keeping his feet on the ground, or rather on his skis: this is how Gaëtan Gaudissard leads his life as a professional skier.
However, there is no need to go very far to dream because the Alps are more than enough for him. Looking for new lines, skiing the best-known lines faster and faster, or even going on an expedition two valleys further: no matter what the challenge, the magic is always there without really leaving home.
For him, this philosophy has become a real way of life ... and he has even made a film about it with the appealing - and evocative - name of Conscience. Between posing questions, presenting alarming findings and life changes, this ode to a new way of skiing will strike a chord with every mountain dweller ... including us!
Gaëtan agreed to participate in the interview, so he was able to satisfy our curiosity about his career, ski projects, and his inspiring philosophy of life. Read about our meeting with this experienced rider. He leaves nothing to chance, especially when it comes to ecology!
Hello Gaëtan ! While our ski-loving readers probably know you very well, can you introduce yourself briefly, please ?
You said it yourself: I've always been passionate about skiing. First, I raced, then I headed for the mountains. My studies took me away from this whole world for a while because I worked in the automotive industry, and then I obtained an engineering degree in mechanics and plastics. So I returned to my mountain sports a few years later with a fresh perspective and a new priority: to practise my favourite sports without damaging this environment, the environment where I live. I've spent a lot of time up there, on skis and in trainers, and even on my bike, constantly, naturally, striving for performance because that's always what thrills me.
You recently made a film, Conscience, which, moreover, went to the High Five film festival. How did you come up with the idea of making a film like that ?
I don't just ski, I also think more and more about how and why I do things. And above all, what impact I have. The idea came to me quite naturally, and I wanted to share these thoughts to inspire the imagination of young… and not so young people !
Tell us more about your thinking : is there a message you want to convey through your film ?
The film's subtitle sets the tone and the message I want to deliver: "taking an interest in the problem is already part of the solution". The idea is to encourage a change in behaviour… quite simply by modifying the way we think ! I want to show through this film that performance and respect for the environment can be linked, rather than being in competition. Lots of solutions exist, both on a personal and professional level : you just need a little imagination. I also think that change is all the more positive when it isn't sudden and comes on our own initiative. We must be aware of the real future that awaits us !
Shooting this film, you met several mountain people and sportspeople who are trying, like you, to live differently. How do they do it ?
To be honest, there are thousands of solutions. Overall, I was able to find several points in common between them :
- - Live more simply, slow down
- - Get out of our capitalist, consumerist society
- - Bring meaning to what you do
- - Take the time to think
- - Live without comparing yourself to others
What are your own proposals and alternatives for reducing your impact ?
To reduce my impact, I changed my lifestyle. For example, I eat local and organic, and I've changed my hobbies and how I practise them. I also limit my trips to 5 000 km by car, so almost all of my trips are now by bike and train. I keep myself informed, and I'm active politically. I try as much as possible to be aware of my impact so that I can live sustainably. In the long term, I would like to take some direct action on my own accommodation and find a job that matches this way of life ! Naturally, these solutions aren't universal : they're not perfect, nor even the best, but they simply fit in with my way of life at the moment.
In your opinion, what measures can be implemented in ski resorts ?
The first action is to stop maintaining mass tourism politically. We must put an end to travel agencies and their consumerist philosophy. We should also change the way we get to resorts : 60 to 70 % of a resort's emissions come from the journeys taken to get there! We can also build or even rebuild with architecture more suited to the mountain climate, especially in terms of insulation, or by providing south-facing doors and windows, in short everything that we are not currently doing, or in any case, not enough ! I think it's also important to educate and make practitioners aware of the fragility of the environment. The mountain is not a consumable like an amusement park can be. I have plenty of other ideas in mind : stop building ever faster chairlifts, stop systematically grooming the slopes, use artificial snow more sustainably… the list is endless !
Do you think these solutions could be relevant to people living in Paris, for example, or simply far away from the mountains ?
Of course, all these solutions are applicable from the moment we accept the constraints that this implies. And if adding these constraints makes us happy because they allow us to protect our lives and are meaningful to us, then it all becomes much easier to implement.
So, according to you, eco-friendly "green skiing" really is possible ? Is this how you see skiing in the future ?
Being eco-friendly doesn't mean living in a cave: you have to start by understanding what you're doing, being able to marvel at it on a daily basis, and living really simply ! This applies to skiing. In my mind's eye, tomorrow's skiing will consist of everyone going skiing where they want, going as they see fit, for themselves. Unlike today, where many go to ski the peaks to expand their list or go there in bling-bling cars to look "stylish".
Many brands are embarking on the path of ecology and greener production. How do you distinguish between greenwashing and genuine actions on the part of brands ?
The difference is sometimes very fine, especially in industry where too little raw material arrives from Europe. For me, greenwashing is when an action "looks" good but does not respond to scientific reality. It's not just about adding a little green logo. True commitment is changing production methods, for example, and doing things differently.
After this great film, what have you planned for the future ?
I have an ongoing project with Alex, my partner, and Victor Galuchot, with whom I share the same values and the same passion for skiing. It covers other types of videos that combine reflection, eco-friendly action and ski performance. I won't say any more for the moment, you'll discover our surprise soon enough !