Thibaut Fauconnet: in need of fresh air ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


8 juillet 2018

Thibaut Fauconnet: in need of fresh air

While Korea keeps on sending teenagers and young adults to the short track battlefield, a few skaters from other countries seem to age like good wine. Frenchman Thibaut Fauconnet is one of them who seems to be able to develop new abilities keeping him relevant in a highly competitive sport. Although he still enjoys short track, the 33 years old athlete wants to play outside.

By Carl Savard
Photos by Martin Holtom, Schaats Foto's, Sila Sport and Thibaut Fauconnet's personnal collection

The career
At a realy young age, Thibaut Fauconnet was already moving fast whether it was on wheels or on blades. “I started when I was 8 years old. I was doing short track during winter and inline speed skating during summer. I even qualified on Team France in inline but I eventually had to choose between the two sports because you can’t spread too much. The first coach who welcomed me at the arena when I was 8 is the same who trained me all the way up to my first competitions that served to qualify the French team for the Olympic games. As for my parents, they were supportive. They wouldn’t block my passion for the sport but they were not pushing me either. When I was young, I had to wake up at 4:30 AM or 5 AM to go to the rink. My father was the one bringing me to the arena but he would never get up until I was up. He wanted to make sure I was doing it for me and not for him. If I was staying in bed, he would just stay in bed.” When you take a moment to evaluate Fauconnet’s career, it’s pretty clear that most of those weekends, he did get up to train with his friends.  

The pleasure
When preparing portraits of athletes, I tend to ask them when did things got serious and stopped being just for fun. The flying Frenchman was having none of that. For him, pushing hard and having fun are inseperable members of the same team. “I’ve always wanted to win, but I always want it to be fun. For sure around 16 or 17 years old the focus probably went up a notch. Throughout my career, pleasure left for 3 or 4 years and I wasn’t as competitive on the ice when it wasn’t fun. It’s suppose to be cool and fun to skate.” Those three or four years were marked by a suspension, some injuries and a salutary pause that gave him the opportunity to finish school and come back strong. “Stopping allowed me to continue. I’ve been on the international circuit for 16 years now and I try to always think of how it started. I need to remember why I was skating as a kid. What I liked at the time was being on the ice with my friends, racing, trying to pass in great fashion, trying to win. It’s important to never forget where you’re from while you keep going forward. Sometimes we become robots, going through the motion. When you start being a robot, your results will start to go down.”  Last season's results do show that the 33 years old athlete from Dijon still enjoys short track, but there is actually one thing that bothers him.

The outdoor
“The only thing that is starting to put a toll on me is being stuck inside an arena. I’m tired of feeling locked up! I'd prefer to be outside. Other than that, I still love it. If we could compete outside from time to time I’d love it!” That answer sent us into a discussion concerning the Allround Championships in long track that were held earlier this year in Amsterdam in an open stadium in front of thousands of people under the rain. “It was amazing what they did there! I’d do it even if it rained!” Fauconnet found some ways to compensate when it comes to taking in some fresh air. For example, he still competes on wheels. “Last year I raced a marathon that was part of the World cup circuit. I also made the fastest lap of the 24H Roller of le Mans in 2016 and 2017 and I will keep competing on wheels in the future.” At the time of publishing this article, Thibaut Fauconnet had just helped team SILA Sport​ - Lactiks win the 2018 24H Roller of le Mans as a team of six beating the record for number of laps completed in this category. But something else helps him breath: mountain climbing.

“I will soon have my license as a guide for medium mountains. This year I’m doing a full week in the Pyrenees and 10 days in the Alps. I’m doing Mont Blanc with a group of friends. I also do ice climbing. It's kind of weird to say it, but I think I like the mountain more than short track these days mainly because it is outside. I’m in need of fresh air.”

Before we parted ways, Fauconnet told me that his goal would be to skate for another year or two but he needs some confirmations from the French federation before announcing anything. “One thing is 98 or 99% sure though. My Olympic career is over. I won’t be there in four years.”

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