Frenchman Kevin Rolland Takes Freeski Pipe Dew Cup

By Courtney Vermaas

“If you look at a photo of Kevin in the start gate before a winning run you can see
the fire in his eyes,” describes Rossignol Sports Marketing Team Manager Matt
Rihm. “Before he drops in you can tell if he’s going to ski well.”

French skier Kevin Rolland is a fierce competitor in pipe skiing, but most of the
time his biggest competition is himself. With a handful of skiers at the top of the game in
men’s Superpipe, each and every run comes down to who can put all the pieces together.

Every detail counts: the preparation of their bodies, their minds, their runs, and their gear.
Rolland has been able to prove his success at this with a handful of X Games gold medals
under his belt and most recently, the coveted Dew Cup.

Rolland went into the third and final stop of the Dew Tour tied for the Cup with
Simon Dumont, a dominant competitor in pipe skiing who typically performs well under
pressure. In the end, Kevin came out victorious because he was the one able to get into
the right mindset and lay down a solid run.

Kevin is an athlete who is confident in his skiing. He knows his tricks and he
knows what the judges are looking for. His recipe of doubles and switch tricks combined
with amplitude has worked out well for him this year.

“I work so hard but always have fun being in this position,” says Kevin. “Last
year I was proud of my X Games gold medals but I didn’t ski well on the Dew Tour. This
season I’m more consistent and hopefully that will continue. I train so hard all year to be
at the top so being on the podium consistently is the reward for my work.”

Kevin is a part of the Freeski Project, a French freestyle pro team consisting of
Xavier Bertoni, Benoit Valentin, and Thomas Krief. Together under the coaching of Greg
Geunet, these guys are ruling the pipe. According to Kevin, “We ski together all year.
We are really good friends so we don’t try to see who is best, we just enjoy skiing and
pushing each other.”

The team trains year-round under a very organized structure. Kevin
says, “Learning new tricks is never done. We have many rotations and doubles to learn.
Every year it’s harder to find new tricks but every year we see some crazy new stuff. The
most difficult is to try what you see in your mind when nobody has tried it before you.”
In addition to on-hill training, they are very focused off the hill. According to
Rihm, “Everything is well thought out. They work out a lot, but only to a certain level.
They are fit and strong, but not over-built. Their philosophy could be described as light
and nimble but still strong.”

Although some have referred to this generation of competitors as “pipe jocks,”
Kevin doesn’t see what he is doing as any different from generations before. “All skiers
before us have ever wanted to do is advance the sport and be the best, and it’s what we
try to do.”

Like any other skier, Kevin enjoys just getting out and making turns on snow.
Competition season is very demanding with consecutive events, but that doesn’t mean the
French aren’t having fun and enjoying what they do.

“I’m not a superstar so when somebody wants to shake my hand because I won
the X Games, it’s fun,” says Kevin.

In addition to winning the Dew Cup for Superpipe, Kevin was honored with
the PowerBar Performance of the Year and Athlete of the Year awards from the Dew
Tour. “I skied for the Cup without thinking about these other awards so I’m more than
happy to return to France with more titles than expected.”

Upon returning to Europe, this ambitious skier plans to take a break and ski
powder to clear his mind. Between a bit of training before Euro X and enjoying every
day on his skis, Kevin is confident everything will work out. “When I was seven years
old my goal was to be the best skier in the world. Now I’m 21 and my goal hasn’t
changed.”