In homage to Malcolm Gladwell and Grantland.com’s Bill Simmons annual e-mail exchange, POWDER Editor John Stifter and POWDER Senior Correspondent Mike Rogge augmented their respective work days by e-mailing back and forth about the 2014 Sochi Olympic Qualifier Shocker: Candide Thovex is competing at this weekend’s Grand Prix at Copper Mountain. What does this mean? Is Candide really trying to make the Olympics or just having fun? Read the dialog to find out the significance of this breaking news.
From: Rogge, Mike
To: Stifter, John
Subject: Copper Dec.16 | Henrik Harlaut
Candide Thovex is competing in the Copper World Cup.
(screams into pillow)
Okay. I’m okay.
From: Stifter, John
To: Rogge, Mike
Subject: Re: Copper Dec.16 | Henrik Harlaut
Wait, what?! “Reddickkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!!! We’re going to Copper!!!!!!” So HE is obviously trying to get into the Olympics, yeah?
ROGGE: He must be. France doesn’t have a stacked slope team. Ever hear of these guys: Coline Ballet-Baz, David Bonneville, Jules Bonnaire, and Victor Berard? Yep, me neither. Candide Thovex. Now that’s a household name like Betty Crocker, Oreo, and Coca-Cola. Imagine if he won? Wouldn’t that negate all of the “progression” of the last five years in slopestyle skiing?
STIFTER: Nope, I’ve never heard of those Frenchies. I figured he would enter pipe, channeling his 2003 X Games flairs of yore, rather than slope. But with Kevin Rolland and Xavier Bertoni (what happened to him?), I could see how slopestyle would be the call for him.
This is like Michael Jordan returning to the Washington Wizards but better. Yeah, Candide is old, comparatively, but after his Few Words effort (also of yore), you can’t count him out from doing something Candide-esque. Then again, I wonder what his double game is like? And imagine being a judge of this contest. You can’t score Candide on the same scale since he’s every judges’ idol and the foundation for style and amplitude. Throw out all the criteria and judge him on the Candide Cool Factor, CCF. He wins every time, right?
So, wait, is he actually doing this?
ROGGE: Great MJ comparison. We’re old(ish) guys in this sport. We got to see Candide in his prime and there will never be anything like that ever again. I saw him at an event at Whiteface, New York, called Bumps and Jumps. The competition was an early 2000s attempt to mold together slopestyle and moguls. Ahead of its time, for sure. In the event, Candide skied down the mogul line and in the middle of a mogul field popped switch off his turn, did a switch underflip off a mogul jump, landed forward, and skied the rest of the bump line. My mind exploded again simply recalling that event. If you’re a judge, your hero just signed up to compete in an event. Good luck “judging him.” At the very least, I’m happy for the kids at Copper this weekend. By kids, I mean Tom Wallisch and Henrik Harlaut.
But the question remains: Is he actually doing this?
I put in a call to a friend at U.S. Freeskiing. She was kind enough to send the Training Bibs List (see right). This is a list of people that requested a bib to train for the event. I won’t fault the USSA for spelling his name wrong. If he signed up to compete in a slopestyle event and I was working the desk, I’d spell it something like Canidfgakgnarklgakdfjngaksdnfkasdnfaksfnjk`!!@ @#. I took the liberty of highlighting his name with French colors.
STIFTER: Thorex! THOREX! That person should receive the biggest whitewash ever. Almost like Harry throwing a fast ball snowball in Mary’s face from Dumb And Dumber. Then again, I can certainly understand your point regarding the hysteria of checking in Candide at the registration table and just scribbling something down while drooling in awe at the French sensation.
Like the Bible and other religious works, I’m going to start referring to CANDIDE in all CAPS.
Since you’ve been able to confirm HIS entry into the comp (nice reporting), let’s talk about HIS run and our realistic expectations. First off, I expect HIM to go through about six different ski pole straps. Why? Have you ever seen CANDIDE at the top of a comp run or any other run of importance? The DUDE wraps his straps around his mitts (always the mitts) tighter than any other skier alive. I remember when I was at X Games pipe practice as a rookie researcher for ESPN circa 2005, and former Rossignol Team Manager Paddy Kaye had to break out the duct tape several times because CANDIDE wound his straps so tight around his mitts the nylon kept snapping. It’s almost like Tiger Woods’ tiger driver cover. You cannot not have a CANDIDE run without planning for this gear modification.
ROGGE: CANDIDE’s run will look something like this:
I was at Boreal for a couple of those days. The DUDE stayed in Truckee for about two weeks, quietly skiing Boreal without much fanfare. On the hill, HE hadn’t lost a step. HIS rail game is as good as anyone competing in slopestyle today. HIS 3s, 5s, and 7s were on lock. The switch 7 in that edit? Amazing. While we’re at it, are there any other skiers that can pull off three and half minutes of GoPro footage edited without music?
To further emphasize how incredible this is, let us be reminded that since HIS last slope event, HE’s won the Freeride World Tour, a Best Male Performance at Powder Awards just last year, recovered from injuries that knocked many of his contemporaries out of the game for good, and made this edit which makes all other GoPro edits look sad.
STIFTER: The CCF is off the charts with those edits augmented by the no-music element. If that doesn’t prove HIS greatness, then name someone else who could do that.
CANDIDE’S 3s and 5s, whether it’s right or left, look like a massive Peter Line backside 3 from a Mack Dawg shred flick. So floaty, so simple, so breathtaking.
Now what do you think Russell Henshaw and Todd Walnuts and other competitors are thinking when HE’s in the start gate? Does HE elevate their skiing or do they simply forego Olympic focus and honor the sport by watching HIM bounce on rails and boxes before boosting the sweetest tail grabs since Notorious? My guess is HE influences Wallisch, who integrates more style than ever into one of his runs, which is saying a lot since we know Walnuts has, arguably, the most style out of the class of slope jocks, and lands a podium spot while giving thanks to CANDIDE from atop the podium. CANDIDE, of course, won’t be there for the podium ceremony, because HE’ll be floating massive rightside 3 blunts off the sweetest backcountry booter since Teddybear Crisis.
ROGGE: After spending time at the Winter Dew Tour this last weekend, I can safely say there is more style in slope than ever before. And diversity (shout out to Vinnie Cash and his rodeo 5 pretzel ((not a switch 7)), which is a nice addition after those deplorable switch 10 years. While CANDIDE doesn’t have HIS double game on lock like the Woods, Goepper, Williams, Henshaw, Brown, Carlson, Kenworthy, Harlaut, and Wallischs of the world, HE could gain additional points for nostalgia. [Editor's Note: He’s in Heat 4 going up again Bene Mayr, Andreas Hatveit, Johan Berg, Niklas Eriksson, Willie Borm, Elias Ambuhl, Annti Ollila, Joss Christenson, Markus Eder, and more. Those dudes are all good, but chances are they fall from shock that they’re competing against THE DUDE.]
Those guys are going to be stoked HE’s there, especially U.S. Slopestyle Coach Skogen Sprang, Canadian Slope Coach J.F. Cusson, Russian Coach Chris Turpin, and U.S. Halfpipe Coach Andy Woods. They all skied and competed with CANDIDE in their primes. Now HE will try and take down their students. It’s like Obi Wan Kenobi against a bunch of young jedis.
Up in the start gate, the rest of the field cheers loudly for the guy that’s currently on course. These guys are skiers, and skiers are tribal. I foresee them cheering CANDIDE on all the way to the finals where, if HE lands his runs, HE’ll end up somewhere between sixth and 10th place. In our hearts, HE’s still number one.
A few things are certain. This will be a big weekend for mittens, tail grabs, and a bad weekend for Colorado cows.