DE LE RUE DIY presented by SWATCH

Driving_Bob_Xavier_BeanieOver the last few years, Xavier De Le Rue has become less known for his World Champion Titles and better known for his large scale expeditions that have taken him from Antarctica, on to Svalbard, before most recently dropping him from paramotors straight into Alaskan lines. It is fair to say that Xavier lives a life less ordinary. However, this winter, Xavier is chasing a simpler dream: life on the road, seeking out storms and replacing expedition organisation with riding every day. Xavier tells us a little about his current adventure.

What made you want to hit the road in a campervan this winter?
Ever since I started snowboarding, I have been on the road. To begin with it was following the competition circuit, then it progressed into filming and finally into larger scale expeditions. Over time, I seemed to have swapped time on my board for time behind a computer screen organising snowboarding rather than actually snowboarding. I wanted to get back to riding all winter and rekindling the fire I had when I was younger to be in the mountains everyday. To me, the most obvious option seemed to be to hit the road in a more traditional manner: true ski bum style, with one campervan and no agenda other than to chase storms… and go to Italy to eat good food.

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You are producing a webisode series, DIY, can you tell us a little bit about this?
DIY – stands for ‘Do It Yourself’, which fits in with my goal this winter to be out everyday. If I had to rely on others to come and shoot or film it would mean I couldn’t just follow the storms, but would get stuck into organisation again. It had to be true self-documentation. For the last two years I have been part of a team developing an autonomous flying camera, Hexo+. In all the films I have made with Timeline over the last 8 years, I have been obsessed with obtaining aerial angles of snowboarding as I believe they help to show the viewer the amazing places I am lucky enough to visit and to reveal the true dimensions. The goal with Hexo+ was to be able to do that without helicopters, a large team and all the logistics that go with that, so this project is really a test of that. At the beginning we had no true idea if we could make it work or not.

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And does it work?
It was definitely pretty tricky to start with. We had a lot of problems, and a lot of that was getting to know all the different equipment, and remembering it. For example, at the start of the season, we would make our way to the top of Mont Fort, set everything up and then discover we had forgotten a tiny cable for the gimbal and it wouldn’t work without it, so we would have to come all the way down with nothing. But in regards to the filming, we have been able to shoot the aerial angles with the drone to show the bigger picture. We also film with GoPros and small digital SLRs to tell a more intimate story.
We had a great reaction to our “Mallory” episode, which was a huge relief as it felt like a massive achievement and I think that was the moment we finally felt, yes, this works, phew.

You keep talking about “we”, who is the “we”?
It is my wife, Beanie, who makes up the “we”. She is one of my favourite riding partners and I wanted to share this adventure with her.

How is it working with your wife?
It took a while for us to find our rhythm. Beanie has been working at Faction for the last five years and felt she had lost her ski legs and ski confidence, but that has been coming back throughout the winter. There was also a lot for both of us to learn, as neither of us are pros with a camera and so we made a lot of mistakes, which can be frustrating. Plus a few heating issues with Bob (the name we gave our van) meant it wasn’t always the most comfortable… but we are both feeling very lucky to be getting to live this adventure together and are making the most of it.

Ridge_Beanie_Xavier_Victor_1So where have you been/where will you go?
Not as far as we envisaged… we had grand plans to head all over Europe, but we have been severely restricted by the snow, or rather lack of it at the start of the year. We have generally been riding between Verbier and Chamonix, and lately the Pyrenees. Now we are off to explore the North of Norway during the month of April for a mission to ride Fjords above the sea. But the nicest part about this project is that nothing is set. We can go wherever we want – although sometimes the huge amount of choice results in crippling indecision!


One to watch...Benoît Albertini

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One to watch...

Benoît Albertini

Hometown Verbier/CH
Age 23
Sponsors Picture Organic Clothing, Offshore Café Verbier
Number of years riding  8 soon...
Discipline All’mountains, bc, freeride et freestyle

How did you get into skiing?
I was born in a ski resort, my dad put me on skis when I was two and then I did a lot of alpine skiing before changing preferences and disciplines.

What is it about ski-freestyle/freeride that you love?

The spirit of mind, the freedom it gives and the ability to integrate your own style into skiing generally.

Who has influenced and inspired your riding?

Watching videos of the pros, especially riders like Tanner Hall and Candide Thovex who were the groundbreakers when I was starting out in freestyle. Now, all the top riders make you want to improve and find your own style. Also, my three mates Jacky Bruchez, Alex Neurohr and Arnaud Bouduban who I started with and who are the reason I ride as much as I do now.

What is your opinion on competitions and do they influence your riding?

I gave up alpine skiing to be able to express myself more freely and not stress about competitions. I have done a few and this winter I’m starting to do a few freeride competitions, but the competition mentality is not my favourite way of riding.

_PWF2491Do you ride with any film crews and if so what films can we see you in?

This winter I’ll be riding and filming with a small Valaisan production company called JAMSKI FILM set up by Anthony Vuignier and Sébastien Biollaz. You can find short clip of last winter with French rider JL Ratchel of DLZ (Def Ligz Project) as well as Alex Neurohr and Antho of JAMSKI, filmed by Seb and me on the JAMSKI internet page (facebook, vimeo).

What is it you love about Verbier?

Verbier’s appeal is in the relatively enormous size of the ski area and the freeride domain is truly beautiful, if a bit busy. However, when I was starting out in freestyle the snowpark was big, and we even got to watch the pros from Oakley and Red Bull like Tanner Hall and Pep Fujas who came to film here, but now they favour other resorts where the snowparks have grown in size and stature.

How would you like to see Verbier move forward?

I would like to see Verbier develop more for young people, offer them more possibilities of turning pro and representing Verbier worldwide. Why sponsor someone from elsewhere when the potential is right here in the valley? I would like to see the young people get an infrastructure to match their time, of the 2000s and not a slowdown in the resort’s modernisation.

Do you take out the same riding setup every day or do you have a quiver of skis/boards for different occasions?

I have several pairs of skis, one for teaching and I have another pair for freestyle, the skis I use the most, sometimes I get through two pairs a season (long live breakages!) and I have a pair of freeride backcountries with twin rockers.

_PWF2266What's your take on the world of rocker, do you ride full rocker, hybrid, flat or stick with a standard camber setup?

For ski freestyle, I stick with normal skis albeit twin spatulas as the old folks call them, and otherwise twin rockers for freeride/bc due to the extra suppleness in the ski. But, if I find a ski sponsor, I can adapt to anything.

You wake up to a huge snowfall – freshies or backcountry booter?
Ideally, I’d get up and go and ride the freshies and the head out to build a backcountry booter. Then off to the Pub for a beer at après-ski.

What's your take on the new school urban scene? Are you into bungee ropes and hitting street rails or do you prefer to keep it on the mountain?

It’s the latest thing in the videos at the moment, looking for spots that give the best shot. I find that a bit contrived but yes, I do occasionally hit the street rails. That’s something you can do virtually anywhere there’s snow.

Shout outs
My parents, my main sponsor since I started. My current sponsor Picture Organic Clothing and my mate Danté at Offshore Café in Verbier. My mates, whether I’ve been riding with them forever or just a short time. JAMSKI who welcomed me like one of the family, and as we say around here: Adieu you lot!

Text: Kathryn Adams Photos: Philip Field (article 2013)


Richard Branson

(Article from 2004)

Rumours of various developments and who’s buying property in Verbier is often a popular topic of conversation throughout the town. Last year one such story concerned Sir Richard Branson (the renowned British entrepreneur, best know for his ‘Virgin’ brand) purchasing ‘The Verbier Lodge’

CHR_0062cop[1]The former hotel was indeed bought by Virgin Limited Edition specialist properties. Re-named ‘The Lodge’, the property is due to open next winter after a £7,5 million refurbishment - approximately 18 million CHF. The luxury chalet aims to be a chic retreat with all the hallmarks that Virgin Limited Edition is renowned for – an outstanding location, stylish interiors and the exceptional personal service that keeps Virgin Limited Edition properties firmly on the A-list. Locations for the properties include Necker Island in the Caribbean’s British Virgin Islands, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa, Sa Terra Rotja in Mallorca; The Roof Gardens and Babylon Restaurant in London; Kasbah Tamadot in Morocco and of course now Verbier.

Sir Richard Branson, who’s a passionate skier, discovered the ‘The Lodge’ on a ski trip to Verbier and decided to make it the first ski venture in Virgin Limited Edition’s portfolio.  The property comes complete with private pool plus indoor and outdoor spa areas, promising its guests sublime levels of indulgence and pampering. The plans look spectacular - on completion ‘The Lodge’ will be the dream mountain retreat.

Verbier Life asked Sir Richard Branson ( via email) a few questions about ‘The Lodge’ and his passion for winter sports

Of all the ski resorts world wide, why did you choose Verbier for ‘The Lodge’?

Verbier was my chosen resort due to a combination of it’s world class skiing, fantastic summers, high altitude and short airport transfers. Also, the après ski in Verbier must be amongst the best in the world.

When and where did you learn to ski?

I actually learnt to ski in Verbier when I was 27 years old. I thought I was going up a very short ski lift and ended up going right to the top of the mountain and falling all the way back down again. I was self-taught with a couple of friends who were equally as bad.

Do you just ski or do you also snowboard and télémark?

I both ski and snowboard since my daughter Holly skis and my son Sam snowboard but spend slightly more time on skis than snowboards.

Can you describe what you consider to be a perfect day and evening in the mountains?

A day after a heavy snow fall – the first up on the mountain - skiing in the trees - stopping off at a beautiful restaurant up in the mountains and then spending the rest of the day having a long lazy lunch.

How easy is it to switch off from work when you are on holiday?

I can never completely switch off from work when I’m on holiday but I’m lucky as I don’t think of work as work and enormously enjoy what I do and view it as an incredible challenge. Mobile phones actually give us the freedom to go skiing even when there is crisis (which is most days)!

Apart from skiing what other sports do you enjoy?

I love sports generally. Ballooning, tennis, kite surfing are the sports I enjoy the most apart from skiing. For those who have never tried kite surfing I would highly recommend it. It looks far more dangerous and difficult than it really is. The new kites are really safe and once you’ve spent three or four hours mastering it you will never look back.

Where’s your favourite holiday destination and why?

Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands is my favourite holiday destination.  It’s a beautiful little jewel and actually gave me the idea for The Lodge in Verbier. Many of the people who come to Necker Island asked if we could try to create Necker Island but in the snow.  We looked at many resorts and ended up settling on Verbier and we hope with The Lodge we can create one of the best chalets in the world (if not the best) where family and friends can take it over and have a holiday of a lifetime.

Anyway - look forward seeing many of you in Verbier in the years to come.

Thanks and have a wonderful year.

Richard


Xavier De Le Rue

(2011) Verbier Life meets up with Xavier De Le Rue, and dares asks the question – what line will he be taking down the Bec des Rosses this year?

Xavier De Le Rue is arguably the best freeride snowboarder in the world, (three times world freeride champion and three times winner of the Verbier Xtreme prior to which he was four times world champion in snowboard cross) and is one of the few European riders to have hit the big time in the U.S.A in films like, ‘The Storming’ and the much-anticipated ‘Deeper’ as well as the ‘Lives of the Artists’ documentary shot in Antarctica. This season, Xavier De Le Rue, cameraman Guido Perrini and photographer Tero Repo have teamed up to produce ‘Timeline’, a behind-the-scenes look at some of the world’s most epic freeriding footage.
Already, over the last few months the ‘dream team’ (a nickname given to this harmonious team who have worked closely together for the last three years) have camped in the depths of Canada and sheltered from -27°C wind chill in a snow cave in Japan. Following this interview the Freeride World Tour (FWT) will take Xavier to Austria, the USA and perhaps Russia (depending on results from the earlier stages) with the final taking place in Verbier this month.

What made you create Timeline Missions?

Until now we have just been filming for filming, we were getting a few great action shots, but it was a shame that no one was getting to see behind-the-scenes stuff… all those moments of doubts and fears which were never shown, all the preparation, travelling, scoping and the work necessary to get those images on film…

How has the winter been so far?

It has varied between mellow riding amongst pine trees and exploration trips. Canada was a week of camping with lots of powder. It was a bit disappointing, not really very steep, more Bruson-style in the woods. A good way to start the winter – with lots of touring to get fit for the season ahead. We then came back to Verbier for Christmas before heading off to Japan for a two-week trip. Japan was great - lots of powder, with a good few windows of clear weather, good snow with some nice lines.

How was the food? (I should be asking about the snow conditions, but couldn’t resist also hearing about the food experience)

Great, there wasn’t any sushi in Hakuba, but we made up for it in Tokyo. The breakfast was a bit strange, rice with lots of strange things semi-sweet, semi-salty… We also ate some of the best Italian food out there at a friend’s restaurant – although we sneaked some sushi before we went there…

[quote_center]Verbier is the one I look forward to most – the Bec des Rosses attracts the most people, it also has the best lines.[/quote_center]

After Japan, you went to Chamonix for the first stage of the FWT and won. How was that?

Great – the competition had to move to Courmayeur on the Italian side of Mont Blanc due to snow conditions – the organization to move the event at such short notice was impressive. And in the end they managed to find us some great snow, a great start to the season!

The Tour also stages in Austria, the USA, Russia and of course here in Verbier. A bit of a loaded question, which is your favourite leg of the Tour?

Verbier is the one I look forward to most – the Bec des Rosses attracts the most people, it also has the best lines. It’s a mountain where you can really push yourself. It’s a mountain that demands maturity and respect from the riders.

You’ve been in the Verbier Xtreme eight times, impressively winning the last three years… Do you get nervous when you’re at the starting gate at the top of the Bec?

All the time.

What about ‘Wobbly knees’?

Yes – when I go for something big. It’s good to fight the nerves when you know you can do the line or jump. The bigger jumps take more planning. The bigger the line, the more wobbly my knees get… it just goes with the job!

Last year you took a new line down the Bec. Do you look at the mountain all year, planning your line for the next Xtreme?

Conditions vary throughout the season, so what might look good at the beginning of the winter won’t always work. I saw the line I won with last year whilst I was skiing with my daughter, I went back and checked it out again and then studied it and fortunately won with it.

Are you planning a new line for this year?

Not completely new, a line that’s been done, but I plan to do a sequence of big jumps – I have a plan but it will depend on the conditions. We’ll see…

To see footage from Xavier’s trips to Canada, Japan and trips around Verbier go to  www.xavierdelerue.com To see which line he takes down the Bec, head up to watch him on March 19 ( check the FWT website for any date changes).
www.freerideworldtour.com


La nouvelle boulangerie Michellod après 61 ans dans le métier

La nouvelle boulangerie Michellod après 61 ans dans le métier
Didier Michellod a invité Verbier Life à visiter sa nouvelle boulangerie…

Après 61 ans dans le métier, la famille Michellod a récemment déplacé sa production de Verbier vers de nouveaux locaux impressionnants, situés à Sembrancher, sur la route de Martigny. Cette boulangerie illustre très bien la manière dont certains commerces se sont développés et ont grandi au fil des années.

DSC_0358A ses débuts, en 1949, Armand Michellod fabriquait ses premiers pains dans un petit chalet de 28m2 situé au centre de Verbier. Son fils Gérard et son petit-fils Didier continuent aujourd’hui à faire fonctionner l’entreprise florissante depuis un nouveau bâtiment d’une imposante surface de 2800 m2 qui occupe 30 personnes à la production, en plus des 22 employés qui travaillent dans les diverses boulangeries Michellod de la région.

« Il nous est au moins deux fois plus facile qu’avant de fabriquer nos produits dans ce nouveau bâtiment » commente Didier Michellod.

Le vaste espace est constitué de sections séparées pour différentes zones de production, et contenant plusieurs frigos de la taille de certains studios que l’on peut trouver à Verbier. Quelques faits intéressants à prendre en compte la prochaine fois que vous mordez dans votre croissant au petit-déjeuner : la boulangerie Michellod fabrique chaque jour 1200 Baguettes et entre 3000 et 4000 croissants. On comprend mieux pourquoi ils ont besoin de leur nouvel espace de travail !

www.boulangerie-michellod.com