Clarion resets with new guide for 2015-16

The Frenchman won his first World Championships medal in 2015 and will use the coming season to build a relationship with Antoine Bollet. 25 Nov 2015
Thomas Clarion of France competes in the 4 x 2.5km Open Relay cross-country at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

Thomas Clarion of France competes in the 4 x 2.5km Open Relay cross-country at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

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By By Louise Wood | For the IPC

“The next Games will soon arrive. I am confident and work peacefully.”

After winning his first World Championships medals in 2015, France’s Thomas Clarion will begin the Nordic skiing season with new guide Antoine Bollet.

Clarion left Cable, Wisconsin, with a 4 x 2.5km open relay gold and silver in the 20km freestyle cross-country visually impaired, where he was guided by Julien Bourla.

Clarion thinks it is a good time to make the transition as there are no major Championships in 2015-16. Instead there will be three World Cups, the first of which get underway in Tyumen, Russia, between 2-9 December.

“The next season is important,” the 33-year-old said, “As there is less competition, we can work well on snow.”

Clarion will have plenty of time to develop his relationship with Bollet before the World Championships scheduled for 2017 and the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games. Early signs from the pair are that things are going well but they are yet to face the test of a competitive race.

“I'm lucky because the transition is going well at the moment,” Clarion continued. “We'll see in the races if we are really working well together.”

Possibly due to this new situation Clarion has not yet set specific targets for the coming seasons. He is currently ranked seventh in cross country and 11 in biathlon and is looking forward to making more progress.

“The next Games will soon arrive,” he said. “I am confident and work peacefully.”

Last season was a special one for Clarion with his gold and silver medal in Cable at the highest level outside of a Paralympic Games.

“I am proud of my race because I could contain my pursuers all along. The track was very nice to ski,” Clarion commented.

He raced the anchor leg in the 4 x 2.5km open relay and brought the team home to win gold alongside teammates Benjamin Daviet and Anthony Chalencon with his guide Lucas Duperrex.

“The race for the World Championships relay was very short for me as I was last to ski,” Clarion said “I knew we had a good lead, so I just had to apply myself and not make any mistakes. The result was great for the team.”

The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games were also Clarion’s first Paralympic podium experience, where he secured bronze in the 10km freestyle cross-country and bronze in the 4 x 2.5km open relay.

He puts this improvement in major competitions down to different training as well as his attitude towards the sport.

“I have not changed; I still ski with desire and to have fun,” he said. “The things that have changed around me are my training conditions which have improved a lot.”

Clarion was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, which is a degenerative eye disease, when he was 20-years-old.

He credits Nordic sport with helping him adjust to his impairment. “I practiced skiing alone until 2004. I wanted to continue, and then practiced skiing accompanied by a guide. I like skiing and physical exertion.”

The 2015-16 IPC Biathlon and Cross Country Skiing season will begin between 2-9 December in Tyumen with World Cups in both sports.