Among international freeriders, Candide Thovex ranks as a skier extraordinaire. He regularly demonstrates his feel for the skis as well as his athletic prowess and exceptional coordination in the backcountry and on runs that are very much off the beaten path. His fans can watch the extreme sportsman in action, performing flips and daring jumps over obstacles—all at breathtaking speeds—thanks to short video clips on his YouTube channel. Clearly, this is not an activity for beginners. Leave it to seasoned professionals like Candide Thovex. It’s not strictly necessary for there to be snow under the athlete’s skis—grass, sand and water, too, allow the freerider to put on a spectacular and impressively spirited performance.
In 2015, Thovex joined forces with Audi to showcase his skill on skis: In an Audi quattro clip that went viral, he tears down a grassy alpine slope on skis, leaps over streets, flies through a tunnel, leaving a trail of sparks, weaves between a handful of cows and finally lands in the trunk of an Audi Q7 SUV. Now, this partnership is being continued and the results are no less astonishing: Candide Thovex is once again accompanied by the Audi Q7 as he roams the world, seeking out suitable alpine spots to set his special freeride skis in motion on the most diverse of slopes. The crew gave the traditional winter sport regions a wide berth, concentrating instead on snow-free locations from Europe, through the Americas, to Asia. And Candide Thovex was naturally undeterred by the somewhat sub-optimal conditions.
To find out what challenges the skier, vehicle and crew nevertheless faced in the landscapes they discovered, watch the following video.
The first stop was Europe’s far north. Camping under the open sky with a view of the enchanting northern lights proved an unforgettable experience. After three nights sleeping in tents, the team continued crossing the highlands and was lucky enough to be able to take shelter in a tiny mountain cabin as the weather took increasingly dramatic turns for the worse during shooting. Looking back, this wasn’t what stood out in everyone’s memory. Instead, it was the Frenchman’s 360-degree jump from the grass-covered roof of their shelter.
Journeying across endless sand dunes was the ultimate test for man, machine and gear, as the sand crept into every crack and crevice. The tiny trickling grains found their way into meals, sleeping bags and even the crew’s toothpaste. Cameras and lenses weren’t spared either, to the extent that the equipment needed repairs after the excursion into the gritty landscape before filming could continue.
For Candide Thovex, water was one of the most difficult surfaces to conquer on the tour. Much as when waterskiing, it’s plain sailing on shallow, calm waters. Things get tricky when there are waves. Without enough pace, you’re going nowhere. That suits the freerider just fine. After all, he’s used to breakneck speeds. It’s also the only way to time hitting the waves just right so as to be able to “surf” on his skis.
Many seasoned skiers seek off-piste excitement while on winter vacation. But none are likely to have attempted the kind of backcountry adventures that Candide Thovex undertook. In an area of jungle, the extreme sportsman glided through a dense forest of palms on his skis. Finding a good line through the almost impenetrably thick vegetation was no easy feat. Then there was the heat. While the crew were sweating heavily even in their shorts and T-shirts, Candide had to bundle up in a full ski outfit for his multiple runs down a very unconventional slope.
Volcanic ash is comparatively well suited to skiing—at least for a whiz like Candide Thovex. Even so, he still needed to keep a sharp eye out on the volcano’s ash-blackened slopes. This was, after all, an active volcano that spews rocks from time to time. Over the years, the mountainside has become littered with massive obstacles that had to be skirted.
For thousands of years, people have used stone to build houses and other things, such as enormous walls. Especially large, historic structures are often magnets for visitors—although most of them don’t have skis strapped to their feet. The wall wasn’t the only thing drawing oohs and aahs, so was the ease with which Candide Thovex moved over the stony building material.
Weather is the make-or-break factor when skiing over loose earth. If the conditions are good, the endeavor can go ahead. But if they turn bad, the whole thing literally turns into a damp squib. Fortunately for Candide, the rain mostly stayed away during filming. That meant conditions were ideal for a couple of fantastic runs that allowed the Frenchman to showcase once again the grace and incomparable effortlessness with which he playfully engages the environment.
Further information on official fuel consumption figures and the official specific CO2 emissions of new passenger cars can be found in the guide “Information on the fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and electricity consumption of new cars”, which is available free of charge at all sales dealerships and from DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH, Hellmuth-Hirth-Strasse 1, 73760 Ostfildern-Scharnhausen, Germany (www.dat.de).