Morgan Lefaucheur is someone who likes to do things his own way and more often than not he does them with flair and always to the best of his abilities. This is no doubt one of the reasons why he’s been riding for Burton for 13 years straight! I met him for the first time at the SPC summer camp in Hintertux seven years ago. At the time, he and Tristan Picot were the new rookies on the French scene and whenever you saw them together you knew they were up to some kind of mischief. Time passed, Tristan left for another world, but Morgan clearly continues to treasure memories from that period, never forgetting his close friend who had led the way for his snowboarding generation.
Photo: Scalp; Pat Vermeulen, Toe-in FS 3 nosepress
Morgan isn’t your standard pro snowboarder. He never grew up in an Alpine ski resort like most, but at the beach in Nice. OK, Nice isn’t that far from the Southern Alps, but at the same time snowboarding isn’t exactly the number-one sport in the region, and a career was never going to come easily. To establish his reputation, Morgan tackled the often boring but nevertheless important French national contests with a positive approach. Growing up outside of the main national snowboard scene means that pure snowboarding talent often isn’t enough to make it in the business, and Morgan’s determination and honest and spontaneous personality have served him well.
While talking to Morgan, it’s clear that he wouldn’t be where he is today without the support of his family and friends. Coming from the south of France where snowboarding is less developed, it’s something that’s been very important to him. His mum and his elder brother always encouraged him in what he wanted to do. “My brother Yann did contests, and I kind of followed in his footsteps. I did the French Championships from a young age. It’s in doing the ‘Coupes de France’ that I really made a name for myself. And then I did the Junior World Championships, and made it onto the France Espoir team. That’s how it all started out." Morgan’s big brother Yann continues to work in the snowboard industry today after setting up MP Concept, a company that manufactures handrails and other snowpark features for resorts and snowboard events throughout Europe. Then there’s Morgan’s friends: from those in Nice and the Amikal crew – which he founded in his early snowboarding years – to more recent friendships he’s formed with the Psykopits such as Arrogs and others, and the guys from Yeahh Productions with whom he shot his first proper video part last season.
Like a lot of riders from the south of France, Morgan has strong ties to his roots, which in this case is a small ski resort not far from Nice called Auron. And it’s this link that no doubt pushes Morgan to develop snowboarding in the area whenever the opportunity presents itself. Yet despite his fondness for his home resort, Morgan quickly realised that if he wanted to succeed he was going to have to travel to other resorts. As a result, he soon found himself following sports studies in the heart of the Alps. “In my second year, I went to school in Villars-de-Lans to snowboard as much as possible and continue my studies at the same time. At weekends I used to go to Tristan Picot’s house. We used to hang out together all the time." Far from home, the first couple of years weren’t easy but it’s during this time that he went on to meet a lot of French pro snowboarders that have pushed him to become the rider he is today.
“I never really told myself that I was going to become a pro snowboarder, things just seemed to happen naturally. Of course, I did go to Villars with the intention of snowboarding as much as possible, but it was more because I just loved it so much rather than telling myself I wanted to become a pro." But that didn’t stop him from joining the Burton team at a very young age. His long-term relationship with his sponsor proves above all that he’s both productive and reliable, assets that a lot of talented snowboarders lack. During this time he also developed friendships with the Psykopits and worked on small video parts here and there. “Contests? I did those more in the context of school at Villars, and as I hung out a lot with Jean-Phi Garcia I did a fair few halfpipe contests too."
It was during his time at Villars that Morgan broke onto the European scene, and that he realised that, despite his efforts, he was often perceived as another one of those “arrogant, loud-mouth French dudes". “The French don’t have a great reputation on the European snowboard scene and we need to try to change that. We’re not all arrogant and lazy, you know. In France, like everywhere else, you’ll meet dickheads and you’ll meet cool people." I couldn’t have put it better… Human nature has a tendency to criticise what it doesn’t understand, and language barriers and cultural differences certainly play a big role in this. “In Scandinavia, they have a real winter season culture. And they all speak good English. Very few French riders speak foreign languages fluently so it’s always harder for us to communicate with people from other countries. At one of my first Burton snowboard camps, someone said to me: ‘If you want to make it, you’re going to have to learn to speak English because that’s what everyone speaks when you’re travelling’. Because of this language barrier, I think a lot of French riders are under-estimated on a European level."
Photo: Scalp; Pat Vermeulen, Cab 540 mutecork
On the subject of French snowboarding, Morgan has a few other things to get off his chest. “With regards to snowparks and resort infrastructures, we need to take way more initiative in this country. It’s a massive market and yet there are still so many things we lack." But the most shocking thing perhaps is that there still is no brevet d’état to become a snowboard instructor in France. According to Morgan, “We should be ashamed. We were slow to develop our snowparks, our snowboard events, everything. The French Snowboard Association did a really shit job of promoting the sport for many years. It continues to take orders from the ski federation and is run by people who have nothing to do with our sport, so things aren’t exactly looking up!"
But to remain positive, Morgan prefers to focus on his own goals. And this year, his number one objective is to put together a decent video part. His first season with the Yeahh! Production crew has been a steep learning curve. “Thanks to Burton I had the opportunity to hook up with Yeahh!’s Darryl Hefti, who used to film for Absinthe before, and Martin Luchsinger, both of whom are super creative guys. In addition, I hooked up with Steve Gruber, Chris Kröll and the others. It was amazing. But I never had the chance to film as much as I would have liked to put together exactly what I wanted. So I’m really going to go all out with those guys this season." Even if, as he says himself, “you’re never 100% satisfied, apart from maybe Eero Ettala who I was talking to the other day and really did film the whole of last winter. That guy rips so bad it’s unbelievable." Onboard did have one question that we just had to ask Morgan: what’s with the backflips? “It’s about doing things a little differently, doing what’s fun as opposed to cool. It’s what Yeahh! is all about." That’s reassuring…
Aside from his film project, you can expect to see Morgan at a few TTR contests next season. Let’s hope that leaves him a bit of free time to return home from time to time to catch a few waves, seeing as he’s also become a keen surfer recently.
Born 20/10/1983 in Nice, France
Sponsors: Burton, Spy, Volcom, DVS, Nixon, ABS, Kiuu, MP Concept
Thanks to: My family, the Picot family and Tristan who I think about every day, my childhood friends from the Baie des Anges, all my snowboarding friends, my girlfriend, my sponsors including Hasi, Steffy, Cyril and Jean-Xavier, Jan Prokes, Xavier Mora, Mathieu Tourneur and Jérôme, MP Concept, Onboard including Youri, Pat, and Scalp, all the other photographers and films I’ve shot with. Thanks for the fresh powder, the waves and fun nights out with the boys and hot chicks!