Sports adventures & travel blog

Freeskiing has come a long way in a short space of time. One of the earliest pioneers of the sport, Dimitri Charriere shares his personal journey as a professional freeskier. He also discusses how giving back to the youth can help grow the skiing fraternity.

When did you first get into Skiing?

Around 45 years ago I started skiing with my parents. I grew up near Avoriaz ski resort, so reaching mountains and practising the sport was easy. Since I was a difficult kid, my father decided to send me to a private boarding school called Sainte Croix des Neiges, located in Abondance, a French region that borders the south of Switzerland, where I did a lot of skiing. In 1995 I came back to Avoriaz, my hometown ski resort and bumped into a childhood friend called Nicolas Droz, a professional snowboarder from France. At the time, I felt I was as strong as he was. I was doing big jumps and going downhill really fast. This sparked in me the idea of starting a career as a freeskier.

Back in 1995 how well known was freeskiing?

The sport itself, freeskiing, always existed but back then, in 1995, it was more popular in the United States and Canada. Freeskiing in Europe still had to catch up. I initially found the various techniques used in snowboarding, such as off-axis jumps and grabs to be really impressive, stylish and wanted to combine this with my passion. Since I considered myself a bit of a punk, I also felt the need to bring change to the classical style of skiing. Today freeskiing is a growing sport popular across the globe.

Gaining sponsors and going pro

In 1995 I received my first sponsorship from Arnette, a sunglasses and goggles company. The next year I started competing in freestyle contests, at one of the first freeride tournaments held in Chamonix. In Saas-Fee back in 2003, I took part in the first official Skiing World Cup called the Half-Pipe F.I.S World Cup, and represented the French national team. I competed a lot in Europe, Scandinavia, and the United States. The last time I competed was in 2009 at the world-class Red Bull Linecatcher contest, where I achieved sixth place. After progressing in the sport, I also got signed with Rossignol Skis and later a list of other brands such as Blackcrows Skis, Look Bindings and Oakley. As well as Compressport Switzerland, Mulebarand Ericspeanuts.

Favourite skiing destinations

I love the resorts in France, USA, Canada and Switzerland. For freeskiing, Chamonix is one of the best. It’s the capital of skiing. I also have some friends and family living there. It’s like my home. However for around a decade, every year, I visited Lebanon in the Middle East. I made some good friends there and attended a lot of skiing events. The mountains there are stunning. This is one of the most exotic places to ski. The people are friendly, the food is excellent, and the country is small enough to travel from the ski resort in the morning to the sea in the afternoon.

Giving back

For around ten years I have been managing ski and snowboard camps called Demonium in resorts such as Diablerets, Saas-fee and Zermatt. The aim is to welcome kids who want to improve their skiing, snowboarding and skateboarding skills. Basically all types of action sports. We want to guide them on how to be safer when doing these activities. While imparting knowledge around how they can build their personal brand by making use of filming, editing and networking. We teach individuals how to grow their passion into a business.

What advice do you have for anyone seeking success?

The freestyle spirit is really important in action sports. It is not only about performance. It’s also important to have fun and share experiences with friends. As one gets older more responsibilities such as work and having expenses take up time and energy. Action sports allows you to briefly forget about these and makes one feel free. It also gives you the chance to do what you enjoy, while learning different skills. You have to fight and stay determined to make your dreams come true. You can succeed in this industry by staying positive, always believing in yourself and following your passion and pushing your limits.

Images courtesy of Boriann.