Thibault Magnin, acrobatic and Olympic skier, the promise of winter sports in Spain
“Live life to the fullest and achieve your dreams”, is the motto of Thibault Magnin, skier member of the freeski team of the Royal Spanish Winter Sports Federation (RFEDI). A phrase that perfectly defines the life of this 21 year old who, at the beginning of the year, lived his first Winter Olympics in Beijing 2022.
Challenger, fighter, dreamer… These are traits that define Thibault, of a Spanish mother and a Swiss father. Until he was 12 years old he lived in Switzerland, along with his family, a country where snow is the main protagonist and where he began to take his first steps in skiing. “When I was little I did alpine skiing and rhythmic gymnastics. Both were the perfect match for my future,” Thibault tells Think Big.
Acrobatic skiing a sport that was born in the mountains of Norway
But, what is acrobatic or freestyle skiing? This sport is known to be one of the most innovative, exciting and dynamic of the Olympic Games that, in addition, entails a greater risk on the part of the athletes who practice it. Specifically, acrobatic skiing is a modality in which athletes have to perform jumps with acrobatics and tricks on the snow.
this type of sport was born in the 1930s in Norway, when skiers began to perform stunts during alpine ski training. Although it would not be until 1992 when it began to be part of the Winter Olympics.
Within the Beijing 2022 Olympics, two tests were carried out within this modality: the slopestyle and the big air. As Thibault explains, the slopstyle test is a freestyle category where athletes down a track full of jumps. The objective pursued is to make jumps with the greatest possible difficulty. While, in the big air, the skiers jump off a steep ramp and perform different tricks and spins in the air.
What is Thibault’s favorite test? Slopstyle, “because it’s more fun and complex. It is not only a jump, but it is a combination of perfect jumps”, he confesses. But to get to that point, Thibault has had to work day after day to place himself among the recognized faces of freestyle skiing.
Thibault Magnin and his innate talent on skis
Continuing with your story, at age 15 he crossed the ocean bound for the United States to train as a skier at a professional level, while studying. This was a turning point in his life. Upon his return to Spain, at the age of 17, he became part of the RFEDI. During that year on American soil he achieved a good level in acrobatic skiingHowever, what was not expected is that he would be able to be among the best so quickly. There are people who are born with a talent, and Thibault’s is this sport, without a doubt.
The vast majority of people need to have a goal to pursue, that is, a passion that moves them and leads them to fight to fulfill their dreams. These goals, depending on the person, can be very different. However, when we refer to elite athletes, their objectives entail a high sacrifice. “For me skiing is my passion, it is what I like to do most in life”, comments Thibault. He confesses that what he feels when he is on his skis is something totally different from what he can feel when he practices any other sport, because he is aware that it is a risky sport.
Freestyle skiing, an admirable sport that captures the attention of the whole world
One of the aspects that make this sport amazing are the skiers themselves. After many hours behind work they make the stunts and tricks they perform look easy. This athlete says that, when they manage to be in the air, calm, despite the difficulty of the exercise, “it is a feeling that no other sport gives you”, he explains. Although, he confesses that fear is always there, only that you have to learn to handle it. These ski professionals practice the jumps and stunts to be performed numerous times, so that when they go to do these tests, your muscles already have the correct position in their memory.
Even so, there are competitions in which they have to perform jumps or stunts that they have practiced fewer times to be among the best positions, or on the podium. Thibault says that this is a situation that often occurs. In it Junior Freeski World Championship 2018 they had to do three rounds in the big air mode. In the first and second rounds he performed his best tricks placing sixth, but if he wanted to get on the podium he had to take a risk, performing a trick he had only practiced once.
At that moment, “you only think that you have one round left, you are close to the podium and that this stunt is similar to othersThibault recalls. Finally, he made a triple 16 placing him in third place and showing that in freestyle skiing you cannot plan each test because, sometimes, you have to improvise and take risks to occupy a place on top of the box.
Thibault’s fight to reach the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics
That same year, Thibault became part of the Podium Scholarship Program, the initiative to support young promises of Spanish Olympic sport, developed by Telefónica and the Spanish Olympic Committee. This skier acknowledges that without this scholarship he could not have gotten to where he is now, because the support of the Federation is very great, but the scholarship helps him to continue training and further training. “Podium has helped me improve myself every day and give the best results of myself”, he says.
Four years after that time and after being the first Spaniard to play in a World Cup final (big air), he landed in the Winter Olympics in Beijing 2022. An Olympics to which He was about to not attend, because in March 2021 he suffered a serious injury in the knee for which he had to undergo surgery. He affirms that this sport has taught him to be resilient and during those months of recovery he was able to demonstrate it. He has been an example of patience, care for oneself and a spirit of improvement. He showed up for the 2022 Winter Olympics, only two months after he had been on his couch recovering.
When he talks about that first experience, his eyes and smile light up. “It has been a dream come true to be able to attend and, above all, after the injury“, recognize. Despite the fact that she could not return with a medal, she showed everyone that desire and work can make it possible to continue fighting for a dream, facing the adversities of life.
A person who accompanied Thibault during the Winter Games and who has become indispensable in his daily life is Javier Lliso, stunt skier. One of the values that sport instills is teamwork and the two of them are an example of it. When one needs a push, the other is there to give it to them.
These are only the beginnings of Thibault in acrobatic skiing, where day by day he shows that he was born to do this sport, becoming one of the great figures of winter sports in Spain. Even knowing this and the long sports career that lies ahead, it is clear that he wants to continue studying. In addition, he combines his passion for skis with jobs as a model, which he admits are for summer, because now his highest priority is the world of acrobatic skiing.