Tifany Huot-Marchand: "Like in the school playground when we were kids." ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


28 février 2020

Tifany Huot-Marchand: "Like in the school playground when we were kids."

Born in a small village of a hundred souls, it’s through a neighbor and her kids that young Tifany Huot-Marchand, nine years old at the time, discovered short track. She was invited by that neighbor, who had practice the sport in the past, to join them on a hour-long trip to Belfort to put on skates for the first time. An offer that would end up changing her life.

By Carl Savard
Photos by Oscar van den Bosch, Martin Holtom and Tifany Huot-Marchand's personal collection

The first day in school
I’ve heard many stories of how speed skating entered the life of athletes but few have made me smile as much as the  bucolic account of Tifany Huot-Marchand’s debut on skates. "I'd never been on skates before this impromptu outing with the neighbour and my friends. It was the first time I got on skates and it was on speed skates. My sister and I thought it was awesome. We were racing, going fast, having fun with our friends and that's how I ended up falling in love with short track. I used to play sports at school but I had never joined a club. Short track became my first official sport and for several years my parents drove an hour to the rink and back so that I could practice short track. I'll always be grateful to them for that." 

For a many years, practicing the sport was all fun for the French athlete. It’s only in 2010 when she joined the competitive training grounds of the CREPS Font Romeu, a high-level sports performance center located in the heart of the Catalan Pyrenees Regional Natural Park that things became more serious. But talking with Huot-Marchand is also having the impression of talking to French legend Thibaut Fauconnet: pleasure has to stay a major part of the process when reaching for the top. On that matter, she speaks highly of Fauconnet who just retired last summer and joined the coaching staff of the American short track team.  "I've learned a lot from Thibaut since I've been around him. By talking to him and watching him skate. I think you have to keep in mind that it's always going to be a game. Since I've known Thibaut, I see things differently and that's really calming me down. On the ice I tell myself we're all here as friends to race like we did in the school playground when we were kids."

Last year, Tifany Huot-Marchand expanded her competitive playground for a day taking part in an inline speed skating competition in Pamplona, Spain. Placed in the Elite category considering her status as an athlete on the ice made it for a tough first time. "I'm not very good in roller and since I had been placed in the Elite class I had to start among the bests. I wasn't expecting it to push that much and I fell, but it was still a really cool experience."

The new friends
While for many years the French team seemed to be mostly resting on Thibaut Fauconnet’s and Véronique Pierron’s shoulders, a breath of fresh air seems to have reach France as young skaters such as Gwendoline Daudet, Aurélie Monvoisin, Quentin Fercoq and Diané Sellier have come to support Tifany Huot-Marchand, Véronique Pierron, Tristan Navarro, Dimitry Migunov and Sébastien Lepape allowing France to get back into relay action. A situation that even though is not perfect, does bring  a smile to 25-year-old Huaut-Marchand. “It can sometimes be difficult to have a short track career in a country where the sport has no media coverage at all. There are very few licensees, hence the fact that there are few newcomers in the team. At the moment there is a revival. I hope that there will soon be another wave of athletes because it's good to have four girls, but it's still only four and it's sometimes difficult. I do feel we're really strong though. It's kind of the same scenario with the boys. It's been a long time since we've had this many of us getting on the road and competing and it feels good. It’s highly motivating to have a bigger team and it makes you feel stronger." 

Despite the many difficulties attached to being an elite athlete in a sport lacking media coverage and not offering a professional circuit where athletes could make more money,  Tifany Huot-Marchand can’t imagine her life without practicing the sport. "It's hard for me to describe how I feel on the ice. I'm having fun even in practice. In competition whether I cross the line in first or third place if I have given everything I have then I have no regrets. In terms of feelings, it may sound a bit cliché but sometimes you feel invincible, you feel like you're flying on the ice and that's exactly what I like and what I'm looking for."

Top of the class
This season, Tifany Huot-Marchand had in mind to win her first individual World Cup medal. This goal was achieved in Dresden in the fifth round of the season. A bronze medal in the 1500m, a podium that also featured the 2019 World Champion Suzanne Schulting and young Russian sensation Sofia Prosvirnova. In addition to this individual medal, Huot-Marchand and her teammates won a bronze medal in the mixed relay event at the same competition. When looking at the different rankings of the 2019-2020 season, the Besançon-born athlete finished 11th in the final ranking of the 1500m. She was without a doubt  the best French athletes in short track this season. When we met, she also confided to me that she would also like to be on the podium at the World Championships. Since the 2020 event is presently on hold, she may have to wait before impressing her friends in the school yard. 

Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter, follow our Facebook page, our Instagram account and our Twitter account for daily news and results about speed skating.

0 commentaires:

Publier un commentaire