In March, France’s Marie Bochet became the first skier in history to win gold medals in all five disciplines at back-to-back IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships.
The clean sweep marked her 11th consecutive gold medal victory dating back to 2011. That record is what makes the French skier No. 18 in the International Paralympic Committee’s Top 50 Moments of 2015.
While Bochet makes it look easy, sometimes it is not. That 11th title, which came in the slalom, required a spectacular time of 55.81 on her second and final run to overtake Russian silver-medallist Mariia Papulova.
“I was a little nervous maybe because it was the first slalom in the big event since Sochi [Paralympic Winter Games] and I just wanted to be the world champ,” Bochet said after the race. “I am very happy to do very nice skiing in the second run.”
Now with the opportunity to reflect several months later, the success of the Worlds in Panorama, Canada, had a more simplistic approach.
“There was no real point where I realised I could repeat the feat of La Molina [2013 World Championships], until the second round of the slalom,” Bochet said. “I learned in La Molina and then in Sochi to take each race one after the other without thinking about the bigger picture.”
At just 21, Bochet’s dominance is almost unheard of in the world of Paralympic skiing, having made her Vancouver 2010 debut at just 15 years of age. Four years later, she won the downhill, giant slalom, super combined and Super-G at Sochi 2014.
If there was a key to her brilliance, it may be her approach to the sport. While consistently excellent, Bochet is always focused on the next race says Christian Femy, Sports Director of the France Handisport ski team.
“If she wins, she thinks ‘good for you, when’s the next race?’ He said. “If you ask her how many World Cups she’s won, she wouldn’t remember because she’s never counted.”
“As a team, we really focus in on what is happening in the moment.”
Though following her Sochi success, Bochet has learned to enjoy the spoils of victory. She has become an athletic celebrity in her homeland and throughout Europe, recently serving as an ambassador for the European Week of Sport with legendary British footballer Steven Gerrard and Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. And with Paris bidding for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, she has expressed a desire to get involved in those efforts.
“What I really like in their application is that it puts athletes front and centre,” Bochet said. “I think it’s great to be asked to give advice and share past experiences.”
“I would have loved to race in a Paralympic Games in Annecy in 2018, but am still excited for South Korea [PyeongChang].”
Since 2014, Bochet has noticed first-hand how her influence as a public figure has drawn others to Paralympic sport.
“The Sochi Paralympic Games were very well followed in France thanks to live television,” Bochet said. “I have received testimonials from several people who had discovered wheelchair sports after seeing a story, an interview, or an event.”
Boechet, a Chambery native, is looking to repeat as a World Cup champion in 2016, having beaten Germany’s Andrea Rothfuss by 270 points last season. The competition hits its full-stride in January with events in Tarvisio, Italy; St. Moritz, Switzerland; and Tignes, where the French hope to use their home snow advantage.
“I don’t want to compete and have my only objective be to reach the podium,” Bochet said of her goals this season. “I would like to be satisfied with my skiing, to take risks, forget the small issues and just have fun practicing my sport.”
Femy agrees with his star pupil’s stance.
“The goal is not to win a globe or a medal every time. The goal is to ski fast. Faster than you did before. You cannot change anything aside from your own performance and the times you are posting.”
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2015, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.