Skiing with a Legend
14th April 2022 | Jane Peel, Tignes, France
Last modified on April 23rd, 2022
Guerlain Chicherit is a Tignes legend. So much so that he has a run here named after him. PlanetSKI has been given the rare opportunity to meet and ski with the multiple World Champion freerider in the resort where he grew up.
He is one of Tignes’ most famous sons.
But Guerlain is not just a local hero.
He’s skiing royalty.
Of the eight occasions he entered the Freeride World Championships – since rebranded as the Freeride World Tour – he took the overall title four times and was runner-up four times.
That’s a pretty spectacular pedigree.
So, when PlanetSKI was offered the opportunity to meet him and take a few turns with him, what do you think we said?
Followed by a little hesitation…
Where on earth will he take me and will I be able to keep up?
“This is my first day on skis in three years,” Guerlain says as we meet at one of the Tignes hotels owned by Les Etincelles, the property company of which he is Chairman.
And with the bindings on the rented skis he’s just picked up cranked up to din setting 12, we’re off.
It turns out, I can’t keep up. Quelle surprise.
Even skiing backwards Guerlain clearly has a need for speed.
Of course, I insist we go to ‘his’ run.
Guerlain Chicherit is an ungroomed black which starts at the the top of the Col des Ves chairlift and has some nice little off-piste sections.
This is apparently what it’s supposed to look like when you haven’t clipped into your skis for three years….
At one stage, Guerlain stops, pointing us away from where he’s standing.
A woman on the chairlift overhead shouts down a warning in English: “There’s a big drop there!”
If only she knew.
Guerlain nonchalantly jumps the cliff and skis away.
In the interests of PlanetSKI readers – and not at all because I can do with a rest – I sit down with Guerlain for a chat about his life as a freerider.
There’s so much more we could have covered in the interview – and we do after the camera’s off.
His driving career, for instance.
A successful professional rally car driver, he was Cross Country Rally World Champion in 2009.
And then there’s his attempt in 2014 to set a world record for the longest jump in a car.
“How far?” I ask.
“Too far,” Guerlain laughs.
Too far was 127 metres – that’s 37 metres longer than a football field.
The attempt, in a specially built Mini, involved him driving on the snow in Tignes and launching himself off a ramp at 188 kph.
He crashed spectacularly and the footage became a viral sensation.
And here’s the full story, including footage from inside the car….
Amazingly, Guerlain was fine.
He tells me that as his support team arrived to rescue him, he said: “You have to fix it. I want to try again. One of my friends said ‘Guerlain, calm down, the car is f***ed’.”
He didn’t try it again but an attempt to do a back flip in a car a year earlier was more successful.
He remains the only person to have achieved it.
It’s clear that Guerlain never does anything by halves and never does anything slowly that can be done super fast.
Whatever he decides to do, he gives it 100%.
That goes for his current career as a property developer.
He started out with a single chalet in Tignes.
Now the company of which he is a founding partner and Chairman has bought several hotels and residences in the resort.
There are big plans to transform Tignes as well as expand to other high altitude ski areas.
But that’s another story for another day.
We’ll be bringing you more on the planned transformation of Tignes soon.
Watch this space!
Jane stayed at the Voulez Vous Hotel by Les Etincelles in Tignes Le Lac. It closes for the season on 30th April. Prices until then are from €200 per night for two people sharing a double room on a B&B basis.
2022-2023 season prices: From €225 per night for the opening week of the season (December 9th to December 16th). From €333 per night for the low season (January 7th to February 4th and then March 4th to the end of the season).
All prices are for two people in a double room with B&B.