Skiing mountaineering 20 January 2017 Back to list
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Laetitia Roux, Queen of Skimountaineering

No athlete have ever dominated skimo the way Laetitia is.

We sat down to chat a bit about the season ongoing.

Laetitia Roux, Queen of Skimountaineering

"There are limits to what you can do with your physical body. You have to find other strengths to draw upon."

Laetitia Roux is about to compete in this season's first World Cup, starting on 21st January. Here she discusses her training programme and current fitness levels. The multi-world medallist reveals how she stays motivated and the big changes she is making this winter. We meet her here.


How has your training been going?

I'm glad to say it has all gone well. This time I tried to do fewer competitions outside my training programme. The only ones I did were Alps Epic on the mountain bike (2nd, mixed) and Haute Route on the road bike (1st). I wanted to concentrate on my fitness. You can integrate races into your training, but they do take it out of you in terms of logistics, stress and recovery. They always use up a lot of energy. I needed to be doing fewer of those, really. And after a calmer summer of being "good", I was in better shape and had no injuries to report. Mentally I felt much better too. So a good result overall!


When did you start skiing again?

At the end of October, in Stelvio in Italy. I spent at least a month and half in Tignes. There wasn't much snow elsewhere, so it made sense to stay up there. The conditions were excellent. It was the first time I've spent that much time at high altitude. You have to be careful with it, because it's more demanding physically. I now have quite a lot of cumulative fatigue, but it's something I wanted to do because the season starts late this year. Mentally, it was important – essential, even – to be in a winter environment during the training period. I can't wait to find out whether that has benefitted me.



Well, the first World Cup kicks off this weekend (January 21). You have been skiing since October. Does that feel like a long time ago?

There's a long wait before the first World Cup. It's pretty much the same every year. We did compete in the French Championships, in the uphill race in December (2nd), and in the individual (1st) and sprint (1st) events last weekend. It was a good start, but it's nothing like international competitions. It's always tricky to manage that period. We train from May onwards, but there's little in the programme that prepares you for the real thing. The closer winter gets, the longer the autumn seems to drag on. All the other disciplines have started, and we're still waiting! We carry on training but have to manage it well. We have to be careful not to overdo it and tire ourselves out, to make sure we arrive in good shape.

How do you feel about the upcoming World Cup (Andorra, 21 and 22 January), the first of the season?

Since returning from Tignes I haven't exactly been in tiptop shape. I can feel my energy levels rising though; it's getting better. And it's more or less what I expected to happen! I think I accumulated quite a lot of fatigue during the autumn. I needed to recover so I could make the most of the high altitude training. Now, I'm feeling good mentally. I feel calm and at peace with myself. I reckon I'll recover just in time for the first World Cup. This season I really wanted to enjoy myself and have fun with it, and appreciate each race as it came.



You're a 15-times world champion and six-times winner at Pierra Menta. How do you stay motivated?

My main motivation is not to win, but to feel that I am making progress and constantly moving forward. Which might be the most difficult thing to do, because when you're at the top, it's hard to stay there. It doesn't help that I'm getting older all the time, but I'm motivated by my desire to remain in the number one spot.

I spend a lot of time doubting myself. There are limits to what you can do with your physical body. You have to find other strengths to draw upon. I do a lot of work on my personal development. There are huge numbers of things you can do with your mind. The possibilities are endless. Ski mountaineering is a very demanding sport. You train alone, and you're constantly having to better yourself and push your body to its limits.

I work on trying to detach my mind from my body, to separate myself from the pain and release myself into the physical exertion. I have to work at it, but I'm not going to tell you all my secrets! It is very personal, and it's not only applicable in the competition setting. It also applies to everyday life. It's more than just training; it's a philosophy for life in general.


What is new for you this winter?

I've decided to stop doing uphill skiing. I'm not enjoying that race format any more. I've stopped wanting to appear on the line-up for those events, and the French Championships confirmed that for me. I haven't managed to commit fully to them because they don't interest me enough, and so the desire isn't there. Those races focus very much on physical ability, and are less technical than other disciplines. Although I've got stronger physically over the years, the main thing is that I've learned a lot about myself. My current desire is to follow my intuition and my dreams. For now, that won't stop me doing individual and team races, which I absolutely love. In my opinion, the descents and the technical aspects of ski mountaineering are proof that it's a genuine sport.


What are your goals this season?

My two main target events are taking place three days apart, in two different countries. They will be my biggest challenges this season. On 24th February I'll compete in the individual race at the World Championships in Italy. Then, on 27th, I'll head to Russia to compete in the team race with Adèle Milloz at the Military World Games. It's a huge challenge, especially considering these two incredible events are so close to my heart.

Then there is Pierra Menta, of course. It will be my 10th time competing. I'd like to do well this year.


Laetitia sunglasses on the pictures



If you'd like to track Laetitia's progress, here's her winter calendar:


21: World Cup in Andorra

28-29: World Cup in Spain (Cambre d’Aze)


11-12: World Cup in Turkey


8-11: Pierra Menta (Arêches-Beaufort)

18: Laetitia Roux (Réallon)

25-26: World Cup in Italy (Mondole)


2: Adamello (Italy)

8: World Cup in Spain (Val d’Aran)

22: Mezzalama

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