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Triple Crown | The Marion Haerty Interview

We caught up with The North Face Athlete on winning her third Freeride World Tour, life in lockdown, and next season's adventures

For The North Face athlete Marion Haerty, life as a pro freerider must come with its fair share of unexpected moments and elements outwith your control. After all, when you’re competing on the Freeride World Tour and riding a different competition face every few weeks, with only limited time to scope your line, being able to adapt in a moment’s notice isn’t just useful, it’s essential. But there was one thing nobody saw coming this year. The Freeride World Tour, like pretty much everything else in the world, was cut short in a moment’s notice due to – well, y’know… don’t make us say it. C*vid-19.

“Though it wasn’t the end to the season anybody wanted, luckily for Haerty, she’d already wrapped up her third FWT title, with one stage to spare”

For all the athletes, months of physical and mental preparation, as well as the preceding stages in the build-up to the final stop of the tour – the infamous Bec des Rosses, Verbier – all came to a sudden halt. Though it wasn’t the end to the season anybody planned for, Haerty had already secured enough points to be crowned her third FWT title.

It’s an incredible feat – the FWT hattrick – even more so when you consider that Marion won it with one stage to go. It was something that she’d been focussed on achieving for a long time, but for the French freerider winning trophies will always come in second place to snowboarding for the love of it. We had the chance to catch up with Marion on her bumper success, life in lockdown, and her future plans as one of The North Face’s most out-and-out badass athletes.

Marion Haerty: TNF Athlete, 3x FWT champ, bonafide shredder.

Thanks for taking the time to chat to us Marion. First off, a massive congrats on becoming a three-time FWT champion! How does it feel?
It feels really good, as it was always my dream to achieve three world titles. For me, it opens up so many new doors and opportunities that I’m excited for, so it makes me optimistic for the future.

That being said, what I enjoyed most about this was the journey to get to this point. It really isn’t about having the trophies in the bedroom but embracing how I got there.

You bossed the competition this year taking three wins out of four events – did you have a favourite line of the Tour? Which was it and why?
I would say Canada because I found it fun and almost playful. I was the first competitor to drop and the surface felt really fresh. When competing here, I just felt super happy and it was my favourite place, especially when taking gold.

“It really isn’t about having the trophies in the bedroom but embracing how I got there”

You often look like you’re just having fun riding these faces, but obviously they’re big lines with heavy consequences. What goes into planning your line for each stage, and how do you mentally prepare for it?
When preparing I focus on strategy, riding fast and playing with the snow. I don’t want to injure myself so I take extra precautions when training. I enjoy being out of my comfort zone and am aware that my limit is going to be 5 years on the world tour, so I also ride to not be injured and I try to push forward every year.

Of course, when I’m scared the day before, I try to meditate and relax, so I am super happy when I’m on the snow.

The final stage in Verbier was due to be going off right now, before Europe went into lockdown. What was the vibe like among the athletes when you found out it was cancelled? And what makes this stage so different from the other ones?
I was not there when we got the news, I was actually stuck in Seattle but I agree it wouldn’t have been smart to ride in these conditions. The general vibe, from speaking to other competitors was sadness.

For me, Verbier is where the competition started and it is a legendary course. I enjoy the atmosphere as the fans get excited because it is the final and the mountain itself is a difficult challenge that I relish to compete on every time.

 

Asides from the FWT, how has the rest of your season been? What were some of your other highlights?
Between competition, I was on my way to film a video project in France with a friend, which I enjoyed. Otherwise, ice climbing in Chamonix on the Glacier between the races in Japan and Canada. I remember we didn’t get snow for two weeks, so we had to climb up to keep ourselves entertained and fit.

We’ve been testing a lot of FUTURELIGHT kit over the last year in the mountains and we’ve been super impressed with it! What are thoughts on FUTURELIGHT? 
I’m super stoked with it. I felt in competition it was just perfect, especially when competing on the French border. When wearing it I feel free because the texture and fabric are really light and this helps with transitions when moving at fast speeds.

Clearly everybody is now spending a lot of time at home, probably dreaming about getting back to the mountains! Are you starting to make plans for next season already? Will you be defending the title? What other plans are in the pipeline for next winter?
I am not saying goodbye to the FWT, I will be back and I am training in preparation for next winter. But, I am dreaming about what I can do next because that is what motivates me.
Ideally, I’d love a wild card invitation to Travis Rice’s Natural Selection event, as I want to do something different and challenging that will take me to the next level.

“When wearing it I feel free because the texture and fabric are really light and this helps with transitions when moving at fast speeds”

How are you keeping fit, healthy and sane during this worldwide lockdown?! Any tips for people trying to keep their snowboarding fitness up from the comfort of their own living room?
Every day I try a new exercise because I need to have fun and I get bored easily. With diet, I try to keep healthy by cooking lots of vegetables and eating less meat. Otherwise, I like to take my time with reading books, meditating and doing yoga.

Q: Thanks for your time Marion, hope your lockdown is going okay! 

Thanks! Take care of yourselves and keep safe.

For more information on what Marion and the rest of The North Face Team are doing to stay fit and active during the lockdown, as well as some of their latest films and adventure stories, head over to the Exploration Hub here

Marion Haerty (Pic: Mathis Dumas)
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