Onboard Magazine

Victor Daviet Interview - The Gent from Gap

If only Victor had been a little more contest- minded then he’d not have to deal with horribly picturesque sunset sessions like this. Switch back 5 in Switzerland. Photo: Perly

Victor Daviet often leaves a unanimous impression. For his riding buddies, he’s the positive asset that ensures motivation and good vibes in a session. For the observers like us, he mixes tech and airtime in the backcountry, and he’s improving his skills every season. 

I guess I can say I know you pretty well, being from the same city, but at least for the people who don’t have my luck: how did it all start?

Ok, well I was born in Lyon but I always lived in Gap in the Southern Alps. I was close to resorts, where my mum and my godmother used to snowboard. I got a first try pretty early. That was in Reallon, using ski boots. I never stopped ever since and rode with the guys of the Gap crew.

The infamous Atmosphere crew! And the sports studies as well, right?

Yes, the Atmo crew: Bruno Rivoire, Brynild Vuilin, Gaby Bessy, JJ Roux, Ben Thomas-Javid who’s my age, meaning a little younger than the others… The boss Laurent Jaubert, who always believed in us, was our first sponsor and supporter. That motivated us a lot with the Merlette club and Gaëtan Demard. We started with small contests. Then I studied sports in Villard-de-Lans.

There’s something I always wanted to know about your crew: How did you all manage to become pro riders?

We went through different phases, which brought us to ride hard with each other. The Atmo crew was a real family! We grew up together. While studying I got to ride with various people, but my motivation remained the same: It was all about riding with friends and having fun. Plus we were having a lot of support in Villard, we rode a lot and trained as well… something I never did before! [laughs]

What about now?!

Well, it’s not really my thing. Like contests or federations… Let’s just say it’s been an unavoidable step to ride hard and keep studying, progressing and shooting in high-school. Anyway, I understood pretty soon that although I got good results that contests aren’t my cup of tea.

When I explained to the federation that I wouldn’t be the next Olympic pipe champion and that I wanted to shoot with my mates, I received support from the sponsors. Especially Rip Curl where I landed with Victor De Le Rue and started to film in the backcountry. Our major sponsor helped us a lot in that field, with videos like Welcome Home. That was exactly what we wanted to do.

If I ask you to look back, is there anything you would change or did you fulfill your dreams?

Honestly, I didn’t think I would get so far! [laughs] You’re asking me this question right when I might sign with big production companies. That’s something I didn’t even dare to dream of as a kid.  I was the biggest fan of Vivid, More, Robotfood…

Does that mean you’re gonna shoot with Absinthe?

[Laughs] No, nothing’s done yet. But Salomon pushes me that way and that’s exactly what I’m looking for. To answer your question, I think everything’s where I want it to be. My life’s taking the direction I wished. More info later!

When you get to shoot for a big production, what kind of snowboarding will you be wanting to show and promote?

Well, clearly the “riding with friends” side. That’s how I see snowboarding. In winter I got to spend time with Victor De Le Rue and Thomas Delfino. We had so much fun and rode so hard at the same time. That’s how things work the best. Plus both of them have my vision of snowboarding. The season’s been really good.

How did things go with Almo Films?

Great. It’s been my second year with them, after the great Harakiri adventure with my mates. It’s all about the Salomon team. We ride a lot together, and with some other riders. We’re quite a good group. We have a laugh. I think it shows in the video. In such a nice atmosphere, we all improved our riding as well as our filming. Even if I shoot a big prod this winter, I’ll always find time for Almo and for the A Branler podcasts. I can’t wait.

Last season, your main trip brought you to Russia?

Yes, we had some heli time. It was my first time with Thomas and David Livet. That was a great experience. It reminded me of Kazakhstan, where you and I went together! We also rode a lot in France where we had perfect conditions. What a season!

In your area of snowboarding, how important are the trips? Do you like to focus more on producing pictures, regardless of where you are?

Trips are part of it. They’re actually a great plus in snowboarding. My high-school friends don’t have the chance to travel as much as I do. I can thank snowboarding for that. When I’ll stop, that’s probably one of the only things that will remain.

What’s the best trip you’ve ever done yet?

For the lifestyle, that’s probably Kazakhstan last year. There were a lot of big positives as well as some very negatives aspects. We got it all on that trip and it’s simply unforgettable. But as for riding, I’ve had great trips. During the month we spent in France with Thomas and Victor, we enjoyed good times and progression.

Let’s stay in France and talk about parks: What do you think of the development – or lack of – of the French parks?

Even if we ride a lot of backcountry, we still have to use parks to learn how to land our tricks. At the beginning of the season, we leave to Austria with the A Branler crew. We spend a lot of time in parks until January. In France, it’s never really been that great. I’m lucky enough to live in the Southern Alps near Vars. There are some good parks in France though. For example in Avoriaz, Val Thorens, Chamrousse, Méribel… Right now I’m in Les 2 Alpes and that’s Ok, with 15 shapers. Still, it doesn’t work that well.

Do you see any relation between the lack of good parks and of high-level riders in France?

Well, in comparison to the Scandinavians and Americans we’re not there yet. They involve a lot in their hits. That’s probably the reason. With the exception of Enzo Nilo and Boris Mouton, no one’s really making it. It’s gonna be hard to reach the level of the other countries.

What do you think we need?

To train abroad! [Laughs] Honestly we don’t have any correct structure or club here, and very few parks to improve… A lot of other countries are way ahead in that field.

It seems like now the riders have to make an early decision between competition and video shooting, or even between slopestyle, pipe or jibbing. What do you think?

The level has become so high in every area, that it’s almost impossible to spend time doing everything. It’s actually not that bad if it helps you focus on what you like the most. Some pros still manage to perform in several disciplines, but it’s rare.

As an old guy I remember that when interviewing the legends, they always talked about versatility and the ability to charge on anything. Those skills were what made a great rider. What do you say?

It’s true, a very good boarder must be able to ride everything. But to be the best in your field, you must focus on one thing.

If in the past versatility could identify a great rider, what would it be today?

To me it’s all about sharing a great feeling through the riding. In every discipline, the style and the tricks make the difference. I believe it is possible to be versatile. That’s what I’m trying to do. And it’s Ok as long as you don’t feel like being the very best in one field.

What inspires you in the riders who influence you?

I guess the style, the smoothness and the feeling. I’m inspired by guys like Blauvelt for his agility in pow. He butters everywhere and not like other riders.

What would be your dream riding crew?

I love riding with my mates so I’d definitely choose them! Now the guys I like to watch? Blauvelt, Kokubo, the Jacksons, Gigi, Danny Kass, Mikkel Bang… Still I would go for my buddies!

Do you appreciate the style of some contest riders?

Yes, some have a good style. Although I’m less interested in this aspect of snowboarding, I respect their choice.

How about the Olympic Games?

That’s not my goal but if some want to follow the Olympic dream, why not? I’d only did them for my family. Being a mainstream competition, everyone feels concerned. Considering my bad experience with the French Federation, I would have a hard time participating in any of the serious contest stuff… Representing France? Ok, but certainly not this team of losers!

Nicely put. Back to backcountry: How do you manage various projects when your main one is shooting? Do you create some goals?

Yes, to keep motivated. My short-term goal is to improve my tricks in accordance to the terrain, the kickers’ size and the creativity. I could define them better, but I always know the kind of spots I want to find and the tricks I want to land during a season.

What do you like the best: landing a new trick or a huge one?

Both are great, especially in the backcountry. It’s always an intense feeling. This season I landed quite a few new tricks that I didn’t think I was capable of. Like a Cab double cork, a triple backflip, or a front 1080 double first try. Incredible moments…

You’ve been more on the style and airtime side than on the tech one. Was it by choice?

It’s a logical progression, but not only. I still like big tricks. Last winter after my triple backflip, I did a back 180 no grab and a frontside 360. I think there’s nothing more important than style. Then why not add some tech in the pot, although it’s not my priority to spin all the way. I don’t like it either when airtimes aren’t long enough. I really like to fly! Usually, the airtime you get on a jump will decide what you’ll land.

As you explained in the beginning, you always wanted to mix snowboarding and studying. How’s your program doing?

After a specialised high-school in Villard, I went to the IUT university of Annecy, where most of the French riders go. I didn’t feel like stopping, because I like to use my brain. I find it’s a nice balance. I don’t only do it for my future, but also because I like it. I started a degree in international trade, with Johann Baisamy. It lasts 2 years and is pretty intense in May and June. I’ll be done in September 2014.

What do your low season usually looks like? Do you totally get away or do you keep in touch with snowboarding?

I like to get away, sometimes during the season too. It’s important to think of something else and meet different people. In summer, I’m a big fan of surfing! I like to ride parks too, but two weeks are enough. I feel really good in the snowboarding world. But it’s so closed that I need to refresh sometimes.

Is photography a good refreshment? You’re pretty good at it!

Analog photography, you mean! My friends Rémi Petit and Jérôme Tanon have taught me that way. I thank them. I rarely do snowboarding pics. I like lifestyle, landscapes and travelling photos… It’s perfect to focus my attention on something else now and then.

Ok, well we wish you a great season! Any thank yous?

Of course I’d love to thank my mum and dad, my brother, all my family, my girlfriend, my friends, Almo Films, Harakiri Prod, A Branler crew, the mountain, the powder on top of it, roast duck, granddad’s raspberry tart, and my sponsors: Salomon Snowboards, Arnette, Skull Candy, 71percent, Level gloves, P.A.G nkw.