Shifting your career from freestyle and slopestyle competitions to the most demanding freeriding terrain is definitely a bold move. It’s what French rider Marion Haerty, 25, decided to do two years ago. And not only did this humble, hard-working girl commit to her new terrain, she grabbed a world title on her second year on the Freeride World Tour, last April. And it looks like this is only the beginning for the Chamrousse local. We sat down for a little chat near Lake Annecy during the High Five film festival, at the beginning of October.

Marion Haerty – © JH

Hello Marion, can you tell us a bit about the small video you made, that is shown at the High Five?
“Sure. I made a 5-minute long video to show the transition from Chamrousse’s snowpark to Chamonix’s couloirs. I wanted to focus on what freeriding means, because people don’t see what’s behind what’s going on on tour. It’s about how I feel during the competitions. I open up quite a bit in this video; it’s a bit scary… I hope people will like it! It’s the first time it will be shown.”

So, how do you go from a freestyle career to winning the Freeride World Tour (FWT)?
“I’ve always done a bit of everything. I did some pipe, some backcountry, used to do a bit of street, some slopestyle – I did some World Cups. I didn’t really do any results but I had fun, I travelled with my sponsors… But I began to get fed up with the World Cups. I needed to start on something new and I started freeriding. I’m having so much fun at it; I don’t want to stop!”

“So last April in Verbier, I won the Tour. It was my second year on the FWT. I’m so happy with this win!
The girls on tour really impressed me with their skills – so did the guys, both in snowboarding and skiing. Unfortunately, we’re not that many girls. I’d like to see more girls freeriding. But I didn’t think it needed that much commitment: it’s a really scary sport, actually. You’re not sure of what’s under your feet, you really face the element. Some days, an avalanche may start under your feet. There could be a rock on a landing… It’s another aspect of snowboarding that I did not know. You can’t know it till you have experienced it.”

“Now, I really understand how much commitment is needed in this sport. There’s a lot that’s in the head, too. There’s no human interaction with the terrain before your run, so you’re constantly analysing your environment. You have to know what’s going on in order to do the best run possible. It’s really different from slopestyle, where kickers are shaped by people. On the FWT, you have to understand how nature works, and that’s what I love. It’s fascinating.”

How does the Tour work?
“There are five stops. This year, the first one’s going to be in Japan in January. The second will be in Canada. Then, it will be Austria, Andorra and Verbier. At the end, the one who did best on the five stops wins the tour. And Verbier is always the last stop, in April. It’s legendary. The face– the Bec des Rosses – is really big. It’s the scariest. There are tons of stories about this face. Lots of crazy things happened there. People opened new lines during the contest… Aurélien Ducros and Xavier De Le Rue have left their mark… A lot happened! When you’re on top of it, you feel it in your guts. You don’t understand what’s going on, you’re like “What am I doing here?” Girls don’t start from the same spot as the guys, though. We start a little less high – but it’s still scary.”

“The face– the Bec des Rosses – is really big. It’s the scariest. Lots of crazy things happened there. It’s legendary”

“What’s tricky is that you have to choose with your binoculars where you want to go. But then, you have to adapt what you’ve seen from afar, once you’re on top of the face. And that’s really hard. You have only one run and sometimes, a rock that seemed like one metre high is actually four times as big…”

Marion Haerty in front of the Sosh Big Air – © JH

“Usually, we check our runs with friends. We look at what’s doable. I like to make my own run and then ask my friends what they think of it – “Am I too crazy or what?” Sometimes, they calm me a bit, saying “come on Marion, it really is too big!” I am lucky to have guys like Loïc Collomb-Patton or Camille Armand, who help me a lot. They have a critical eye on my line choices.”

Jonathan Charlet… That’s what I call a freerider! He goes wherever he wants on the mountain and that’s what freeriding is to me.”

“It’s still scary for me because I’m quite new at it. Even if I won a title, I don’t know much about freeriding. Compared to, say, Jonathan Charlet, who grew up in Chamonix… That’s what I call a freerider! He goes wherever he wants on the mountain and that’s what freeriding is to me. Being able to ride the glacier, to go down a couloir… And I don’t know how to do these things on my own. I still have a lot to learn!

So what’s planned for this season?
“I’d love to transpose my freestyle knowledge, and add some tricks to my runs. I’m going to work hard on it. If you send some tricks in your run, it’s really good. So I’ll work on that. It matters more to me than another title.”

What about filming?
“I’d like to film with friends, for sure. But this winter’s going to be one day after the other. I don’t want to plan it too much. It will depend on the snow conditions. In the years to come, I really want to focus on competition though. I’ll see later for some beautiful video projects. When you have fun, everything falls into place!”

Thanks a lot, and good luck on the Tour!

Check out more interviews from the High Five festival here