All 23.5 Feet With Joffrey Pollet-Villard

The French X Games rookie on going big, finding a tight pants sponsor, and not throwing doubles in competitions

Joffrey Pollet-Villard during Ski SuperPipe Men's Elimination at X Games Aspen 2013. Photo: Eric Bakke/ESPN Images

There’s been a lot of new talent dropping into slopestyle courses and halfpipes at big contests lately. Joffrey Pollet-Villard is one we’ll remember this winter after he made a big entrance in Aspen’s 22-foot pipe at Winter X Games. The 21 year old from Candide Thovex’s hometown of La Clusaz, France, nabbed fifth with a run highlighted by huge lofty switch tricks, one enormous (23.5 feet high) alley-oop flatspin, and not a single double flip or cork. Word on the street was that he was the next Duncan Adams, except with even bigger airs. We decided to let the young Frenchie introduce himself and his approach to contests and halfpipes.

This was your first X Games final, right? How did you get in and how nervous were you?

I did the Grand Prix at Copper and got 4th, and people got to look at my run, see that I go high, and say, “Oh yeah, this kid can do the show.”

[At the X Games] I tried to keep mellow, like it was a regular thing. I tried not to put myself under pressure because I’m a really, really bad competitor. I did the qualification and made it into the final, and I was like, “Okay, that’s unbelievable for me.” …The X Games are a very different competition than all the other competitions. They’re very powerful.

So how did you get yourself to relax during the finals?

Oh, I just wanted to have fun. I just wanted to say, “I stomped my run at X Games,” because that’s so much pressure to do that there.

How did you decide that that was the run you were going to do?

The other years, like the year before, I was trying to do dubs, but I decided that I didn’t like that; it wasn’t good for me. So I was just thinking about going huge, the tricks in my run are the tricks that I really like.

Many guys said “you should do dubs” or whatever, and I think maybe I can try, but if it doesn’t look good, I don’t want to do it. I watch everyone, and some of their runs look like, not really…not really beautiful, not impressive, even if there’s many dubs in it. So that’s why I just want to go huge and just wanna [get a reaction] like, “Oh, that’s big! Oh, that’s scary!” and whatever [laughing].

Did you have a double you could land before you decided to do that run?

Uh, not yet. I did some switch alley-oop dub 9’s like Noah Bowman does, but not yet on pipe. But that’s the only one I wanna do… A lot of guys were telling me that I could get a higher score if I did a dub, but for me it’s not always about the result—it’s about the pleasure.

Joffrey Pollet-Villard at the Ski SuperPipe Final. Photo:Tom Zuccareno/ESPN Images

What was it like being 23.5 feet out of the pipe on that third hit when everyone in the crowd went nuts?

[Laughing] That was pretty scary. I landed my alley-oop flat five on all of my three runs, and every time I did it I thought I was going to land on the deck, so I was pretty nervous in the air.

When I’m in the air I never know how I am, so when I checked my friend’s camera, I was just thinking, “OK, I’m stupid. I’m a part of the sun [laughing].”

After your finals runs, a lot of people were saying that you put together a run that was a lot like what Duncan Adams has done—bigger and smoother and more just switch tricks—is that a guy you’ve been looking up to in pipe skiing?

Yeah, we talked about dubs when we were at the Dew Tour, and Duncan has always skied the pipe like that, pushing it the other way. So many guys in the last few years have stopped watching pipe because it’s just like you know what’s going on—double cork, right, left, and everything—so I think we have the same way to ski the pipe. Trying to push it going switch and try to go big and not do dubs one meter high.

How do you relate to other skiers on the French team, because Kevin Rolland’s run had four doubles in it, right?

Yeah, [laughing], I respect everybody’s run. I’m skiing with them, but it’s like another way of skiing. They’re doing mute dubs and dub cork 10’s and I’m just doing trash bag grabs. I go high and tweak as much as I can. It’s not the same thing.

Did anyone say anything about your all-black outfit with skinny pants?

Ah, yeah some guys just ask me,“Why do you wear tight pants?” and everything. Now that’s all right because they like my way to ski. Pretty stoked they accept how I look. If I ride good it’s okay.

I’ve been wearing tight pants since last season when I got dropped from my outerwear company, and I was like “Yeah, f*ck it, I can wear what I want.” I want to find a nice outerwear company to sponsor me, though.

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