You can see the passion and determination in vice world telemark champion for 2019, Argeline Tan-Bouquet’s sparkling eyes and bright smile. Argeline is originally from Morillon, and she really stands out from the crowd: ambassador of the mountains she holds so dearly, and for this sport, for which she hopes to compete in the Olympics one day. This surprising woman manages beautifully her double life, as a physiotherapist by day, and then ‘free-heeler’ on the slopes, and she’s only 25 years old.

She arrived in the valley at the age of 6 and got her first taste for this discipline on the slopes of Grand Massif. She joined Morillon’s ski club as soon as she could and grew up on the resort’s slopes, competing well into her teens. Her future as an alpine skiing champion appeared to be mapped out. But at the age of 17 and during the ‘minimes 2’ season “I wasn’t enjoying alpine skiing races anymore, it wasn’t fun”, she admits. So she decided to take another path, and ended up trying telemark skiing. This was obviously the right choice because she’s now vice world champion for 2019, with a few impressive achievements under her belt, in the junior category.

Telemark, a concidence

“I first tried out telemark skiing when I did an introductory session at the age of 12. I was lucky enough to participate in a week-long course in Houches, with Albin Tissot, world champion back then, and a friend of my parents. I decided to change discipline in Samoens with an association that had just been founded. I rented all the equipment. We had just had 30 centimetres of snowfall and we went into the powder, I fell over every two metres and my thighs were burning!”
This didn’t stop the fan of powder snow, who tried this largely unknown discipline at the time, for a second time. On that day, she had a revelation: she really took to the ‘free-heel’ technique! She was still at high school at the time in Chamonix, she skied during the week and trained with the Samoens Team Telemark at the weekend, with Julien Annequin as her main coach. She learnt all there is to know about this discipline, which is a blend of alpine skiing, skating and cross-country skiing. When she competed in her first race in Praz de Lys, she came first for her category; the experience in alpine skiing certainly helped, she was faster than the others, with extraordinary carving techniques. She competed in French championships for a season and then her first world cup in 2011. “I lost spectacularly”, explains the champion.

Her first world cup victory

This was THE highlight after 10 years of practice; 2018, when she was just 23 years old: “It was in Pralognan. The day before I came 2nd in Sprint, something strange happened that day.” …

Interview by Laure Béchade, journalist
Photo by Gérard Gachignard