Alpine skiing: behind Tessa Worley, the French women lagging behind

Why has the French women’s team been transparent for years? “It’s the question that kills, I myself find myself null”, responds at the foot of the track of the parallel slalom event, this February 17, the giantist Coralie Frasse-Sombet, who points to the 27e place in the world ranking of the specialty. Seizing the question on the fly, a manager of the France team intervenes: “You don’t have to answer”, he said, more distraught than annoyed by a finding that has haunted the coaching staff for a long time.

In fact, behind the irremovable Tessa Worley who towers over her comrades head and shoulders, it is the white desert. All disciplines of alpine skiing are concerned, a sad finding that we find in the general classification of the World Cup, where there is only one tricolor in the fifty world premieres. When we dissect this classification by specialty, we see that business remains acceptable as a giant, land of historical excellence in French skiing. But they are very worrying in slalom and downhill, where the first Blue only points to 33e square.

Luc Alphand’s daughter skis in the Swedish selection

“For girls, we’ve been struggling for a few years, lamented before the Worlds the president of the French Ski Federation Michel Vion. So we are trying to rebuild with younger people and we are trying to give them experience ”. Certainly, but still it would be necessary to find reserve in the youth categories – in the European Cup or in the junior competitions – where the French shine especially by their absence.

The last to have floated in these waters is Estelle Alphand, daughter of the winner of the 1997 World Cup and current commentator of these Worlds for France Televisions. The problem is that she didn’t get along with the previous coaching team of the French women’s team. She therefore took advantage of her dual nationality acquired by her mother to go and engage under the flag of the… Swedish selection.

An executive of the France team preferring to remain anonymous points out the management to the hard way of the time. “French coaches must learn to manage emotions, periods of doubt, sometimes tears that are not found in boys, it’s the same in all sports, we don’t lead girls like boys and we have tended to forget it ”, he said. He salutes the tact of the new staff recruited in… Italy, where young women have been piling up victories for years.

→ READ. Tessa Worley launches the Bleues du ski on the right slope

“We are not going to win ten medals, we know that, but we are here to play our chances”, Alberto Senigagliesi, the transalpine director of the French women’s teams said diplomatically at the start of the championship. Apart from the bronze in the parallel slalom of Tessa Worley, the oracle is verified especially as the absence of Bleues at the level largely weighed in the decision not to line up of team of France in the Team Event of Wednesday. It would have been necessary to field two skiers (plus a replacement) that the blue selection did not have available.

Lack of emulation in training

“I would have been up for it, but the management made another decision”, specifies Coralie Frasse-Sombet, who continues: “I think that girls are not given enough financial support when they are at a good level without being extraordinary. In other countries, they are given a small salary, not in France, suddenly they get discouraged and give up ”. But according to her, ” these good skiers are essential for the emulation of the group, especially in training. Me for example, I am all alone against Tessa (Worley) who is a hundred kilometers ahead. It’s discouraging ! “.

Former coach of women’s speed teams, Laurent Chrétien, press chief of the French delegation, provides a more sociological explanation. “A highly competitive project requires the support and many sacrifices of parents, he observes, at the first injury – and there are many of them in skiing – they fear their daughters and advise them to go to school. We can understand them, but we lose too many young people around 16/17 years old. It’s up to us to retain them, but we haven’t found the recipe ”.


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