Véronique Pierron: Still going forward ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


22 juillet 2019

Véronique Pierron: Still going forward

A lot has happened since Véronique Pierron accompanied the short track speed skating French team to the Winter olympics in Torino as a substitute in 2006. A career with its share of injuries that could have ended after the 2018-2019 season but thankfully didn’t. 

By Carl Savard
Photos by Carl Savard, Oscar van den Bosch and Danny Kim

It’s been a while since Véronique Pierron and I sat down to go back in time and talk about her career, but considering how things turned out for her last season, I’m happy that I waited before publishing the fruit of our discussion. When we met, Pierron didn’t know what was next for her. She was tired and needed to see how her federation would help her out before deciding anything. After reflecting on her desire to go on and seizing opportunities presented to her, she took the decision to continue. That decision ended up allowing her to win her first individual medal on the world stage, a bronze medal on 1000m in Calgary during the first leg of the 2018-2019 World cup season. A medal she probably started dreaming about soon after she started short track when she was just eight years old. 

The beginnings
Just like many of her compatriots, her debut on skate were not on blades but on wheels. “When I was young, I was doing inline skating and one day my dad brought me to the arena to try ice skating. There was a short track competition when we visited and the coach invited me to a tryout and I liked it right away. I got good pretty fast and kept at it. I grew up in an active family with two brothers and a father who’s a Phys Ed teacher.” It’s around the age of fifteen that Pierron realised how important short track was to her. She moved 150km away from home to join a sport/study program and turn her passion into a career. “When I was sixteen, I joined the French national team as a substitute for the 2006 Olympic games in Torino. I was not ready for such a big competition but it was fun to be there and have that experience. After that, I competed at my first World junior championships and went four times. That’s how my career started.”

The ups and downs
The skater linked to the Reims Patinage de Vitesse club, gathered some great results through the years including Top-10 finishes in the overall rankings at he 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016 European championships. Even though she battled all through her career to reach the top, injuries slowed down her ascent. “In 2010 in a World cup event held in Quebec City I suffered two cervical fractures that could have been dramatic. I ended up recovering well but still missed a season. Two years later, I had a major knee injury. I ruptured a cruciate ligament and the recovery was long and difficult. Emotionally it was tough also. It seemed unfair that I was struck by two major injuries in a short period of time. I really wanted to keep doing what I loved but felt like the healing process was slow. I didn't think 'Maybe I should hang up my skates' but it was a difficult period.”  

The next ones
For quite a few years now, Véronique Pierron has been the leader of the French squad alongside Thibaut Fauconnet and she enjoys that role. “I really like helping the young skaters and sharing my experience with them. When my teammate Stéphanie Bouvier left in 2010, I ended up alone for four years and recently with the development of new young skaters we were able to compete in the relay event and that felt great. I wish there was a bigger amount of emerging skaters. I know coaches are trying to convince more skaters presently doing inline speed skating to try short track. I don’t know if I will still be skating up until the next Olympic games but I would like to help develop a relay team again. It is something that is important to me.”

The latest news
At the end of the season that saw her win her first World cup medal, the 30-year-old athlete took the decision to get another surgery to the knee that she injured in 2012. “I felt a lot of pain in my knee. The surgery this time was to remove parts of my meniscus that was broken and causing the pain. I decided to have that surgery because for the last two years I’ve had a lot of pain in my knee. Sometimes I was unable to even walk. Right now, I feel like I’m back to normal, but I need to work on getting back to being an elite athlete. It’s like I took a few step backward but I need to listen to my body. I don’t have that much time left in my skating career but want to enjoy it. Last season’s results convinced me to keep at it. From now on, it’s one season at a time and we’ll see where it leads me.”

The French athlete who’s celebrating her thirtieth anniversary today (July 22nd) is not done yet. We should see her back in action this upcoming season. 

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