#203- The French Domination with Julien Garcia

The French own the podium at the Targassone PWC. Maxime Pinot, Honorin Hamard, Baptiste Lambert

It’s no secret that the French are operating on a very different level. If you’re French and into flying and lucky enough you can start young at the Polisport (the French Olympic training center) which aims to develop pilots into the future French team members. The objective is simple- be the best in the world, and win championships. In other words- you can go to University to paraglide! Charles Cazaux, Luc Armont, Pierre Remy, Honorin Hamard, Meryl Delferriere, and Maxime Pinot are all products of the French training program and Julien Garcia, our guest on today’s show is their coach. For years he was the coach of the junior team and is now the coach of maybe the most elite team the world of paragliding has ever seen. 5 of the top 10 pilots in the WPRS ranking are French right now. In last week’s PWC in Targassone, home of the Polisport training center all three top spots went to French pilots. In this episode I grill Julien on the secret sauce of winning. What are the steps the team takes; what does it take to get on the podium with consistency; how do you strategize winning with such different talents; should you focus on strengths or weaknesses; flying “defensively vs offensively”; the “three rules” of paragliding and a lot more. We also dive into Julien’s remote navigational and weather support of Maxime Pinot and Eli Egger in the Red Bull X-Alps. A fascinating talk with a generous individual. Enjoy!

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Speaker 1 (0s): Hi there everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Cloud-based Mayhem. I was incredibly fortunate to be in France at the Target San World Cup last week and got to sit down with Julian Garcia. We had some pretty challenging weather even though they were able to pull off four pretty amazing tasks. We had a few days off and sat down with Julian on one of those. I got to know Julian 'cause he and I both bombed out from a pretty good position going into end of speed on the last day of the super final and didn't pull it off and got to walk out together and sit down and chat for a while and was a little blown away.

Then with his job. I obviously knew that he coached the French team, but his history is, is pretty interesting. He's been at this for a long time. He was a coach of the junior's team for a long time and products like Maxine Pinot and Charles Cazaux and, and many other names, you know, and he was the head there at Poly Spore, which is in Tarsan, the Olympic Training Center, one of the Olympic training centers for France. And Paragliding is a sport you can go do there and learn how to eventually make the French team hopefully and be one of the best of the best.

The French are obviously doing this at a level that very few other countries are, or even close close to. It was a triple podium there in in Tarsan with Maxime and Honorin and and Baptist. And this is something we see all the time and it's because of people like Julian. He's got an amazing job. He's flies around the world with the team and and coaches them and trains them and gets them pretty, gives a talk before every task on strategy and weather and F T V and Final Glide.

And he was incredibly articulate in how he thinks about flying and strategy and, and really good performance. And I learned, I was mostly in awe through this whole conversation about where they are operating compared to certainly where we are here in the States. And I imagine where most other countries are operating and they take this professionally, it's a professional sport. They are gaming for the podium, they don't care about much else and they're gaming for excellence and there's a lot the rest of us could all learn.

So, and I also didn't know this, he was both a part of Maxim's team in the Red Bull X House as well as Ellie Ager. So he was at home on his computer. It sounded like it was pretty traumatizing in some ways knowing the risks that they were taking. But he was help helping both of them route through the Alps in their race. You know, keeping them on good lines and away from storms. And it was pretty stormy, especially few of the days going around Mont Blanc.

And so he was very instrumental in both of their success. So that was pretty fun to learn about as well. So talk about all these things and much more, but yeah, prepared to be a little odd. Enjoy this conversation with Julian Garcia, the coach of the French team. Cheers

Speaker 2 (3m 31s): Julian. Nice to have you on the show. I don't get to do these in person very often, so it's, it's nice to be sitting with you here in, in France. We should be flying, but it sounds like that's coming.

Speaker 3 (3m 42s): Yeah. Thank you very much Kevin. I'm really happy to be in front of you too. I heard a lot of good things you did for the community and I'm find of your books and the podcast obviously, so

Speaker 2 (3m 57s): Ah, thank you.

Speaker 3 (3m 57s): It's, it's an honor.

Speaker 2 (3m 58s): It's a good good behind this. You're making me blush. Well it was quite an honor to bomb out with you. We had quite a good day, but we didn't quite make it in down at the super final on the last day and walked out of a rather impressive estate. I don't know if you knew this, but I think that was the owner of Corona that had that. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I did that. It was amazing. You knew that. Yeah, it was amazing. Yeah, I've never been in there, but

Speaker 3 (4m 22s): I really thought that would won this task at some point. Yes,

Speaker 2 (4m 27s): We were in a nice position and then we weren't and yeah.

Speaker 3 (4m 29s): Certain 90 or something. Yes. But anyway, good story. Yeah, this ranch was definitely fabulous.

Speaker 2 (4m 37s): It was impressive, huh? Wow. Amazing. But it was also nice to sit with you and understand a little bit more about your, your history. We wanna talk about the French team and your coaching and the juniors program and all that because I think people are very interested in that. Elliot and I were talking earlier, Elliot Agar city right next to us. Those of, you're listening and we talk about that, not, I don't think any other nation has a program like this. So the, the world's very interested in it and you're the man to talk about it. But I thought before we get there, it'd be nice to know about your own flying history.

Where did you start? How did you get into it and what brought you here?

Speaker 3 (5m 16s): Yeah, actually both question are kind of linked because I'm a product of the French Federation. Okay. Myself, so I used to live in the valley. We are just standing right now here. Yeah. Basically here. And I got very lucky because here was the famous working, so we, I could see them from my windows and flying and for sure it gave me some ideas really early on.

And I managed to get into some initial courses and then to get myself accepted there at the, it's already 20, oh no, it's 25 years from

Speaker 2 (6m 4s): Time flies.

Speaker 3 (6m 5s): No. Yeah, yeah. I'm, I'm turning 40 this year it seems. So

Speaker 2 (6m 9s): Yeah, it happens whether we want to or not. Wow. Wow. And you have two kids?

Speaker 3 (6m 17s): I have three.

Speaker 2 (6m 17s): Three. That's right's. Three

Speaker 3 (6m 18s): Girls? No, only boys. Oh, three boys.

Speaker 2 (6m 21s): Okay. I'm

Speaker 3 (6m 22s): Getting divorced. I do

Speaker 2 (6m 22s): Boys. You do boys? I do. Girls

Speaker 3 (6m 25s): Only do boys. Yeah. Obviously it's a lot of work. So my life is kind of ordinary most of the time. Like a family car. And what is a bit more extraordinary is my job, obviously, because as you said, I think it's quite unique. It's again, because of a French system. So I grew up as a teenager and as an athlete at the, then I wanted for some more. So I went to France in the yard competing with the guy back in time.

Never was really successful, I would say at, in the competition scene. But still I learned a lot and I was a studying sport at the university at the same time. And I knew since the beginning that I would want to be coach Paragliding. And I even tell my coach back in time here at Polisport that the best job I could find was basically his. So when, when he retired, I, I took over.

Speaker 2 (7m 30s): And what was the initial catch? Was it just looking out your window or did your family, was your family into the, into flying and did you come from a history of flying or was it just you saw, you saw it out your window and got interested?

Speaker 3 (7m 41s): Yeah, kind of interested. And it's true that my father was also a leisure flyer. Yeah. Not for very long. It's kind of crazy Luc because he would've flow maybe for two or three years. It was just enough for me to get involved and to get the initial support. And then I, he start quite almost fastly I would say. And I just follow it anyway, I was completely hooked and I was already in the program of the French Federation, so they allowed me a lot.

And this system allowed me to, to build myself as a sport man, adult and a coach I would say.

Speaker 2 (8m 23s): And is when you say the Polisport, is that where we went yesterday? That's the, that's the where the tracks and the training system, it was all built for the Mexico Olympics.

Speaker 3 (8m 32s): Yeah. Polisport is a world that's say a group of op op pro. Okay. Youngsters. Yeah. Pro. And they are Polisport in every different sport in France that are recognized like high level sport. Okay. So basically there is a commission that mean once per year stating which sport are interesting or not to, to finance and to help. And paragliding obviously is one of them. And we are lucky for that.

They consider it seriously and they support it. So the French Federation had the brilliant idea in 19, 19 7. So quite long time ago to put a of paragliding there, informal where we were yesterday. And it's where all started on the first session. A famous name Ishan Cazaux. Yeah. It was part of the of this

Speaker 2 (9m 31s): Did. Yeah. And you call, what do you call it? Is it the juniors team or is it, what is it called At that stage?

Speaker 3 (9m 36s): No, at that stage it was, it has always been. Okay. And yeah, we don't really have a name Okay. For it.

Speaker 2 (9m 44s): Okay. So, and we had Charles on the show. He talked about it a little bit, but you, you go to the school for, what, is it also academics? Is it, is it just flying? Is it theory? Is it strategy? What, what do you learn there?

Speaker 3 (9m 58s): It's a normal school, completely normal curriculum. Okay. Meaning that you won't have a single hour less than any other student in France. But this school is a bit special because there are many sports you can do as an athlete yourself. And here they will help you with nutrition. You will have your coach, you will have a group in many sport, ski, wrestling, swimming, whatever. And also paragliding. So basically you join this group, you are part of a group of teenager bio glider competition pilot.

You are nice coach, nice support and you try to, to make best progress. You okay.

Speaker 2 (10m 41s): And it's just the, just XC race to gold type racing? Or is it macro and other stuff? No,

Speaker 3 (10m 47s): Exactly. In France, the only recogniz as height level is discipline, is the race to goal type, the cross country.

Speaker 2 (10m 57s): And you were 18 when you enter

Speaker 3 (11m 0s): I was probably less 17, but it's possible to enter as, as low as 14. It was the case as example for Simon. Okay. Which is a famous, also the French team. Youngster, it's possible to enter really young, but because we have a university of sport next to the, to the complex, it's also possible to get there at 2021.

Speaker 2 (11m 26s): And how do you, how do, how do you get in? Is it an application, is it a recommendation? Do you have to have other accommodations that you've learned, you've gotten somewhere else?

Speaker 3 (11m 37s): You do an application form and then you pass a test for a full week. We invite every, every pilot wannabe for one week at the very exact same complex. We show them what it is. So here is the room to sleep, here is the food, here is the site we test every single student and then we decide who could enter or not for the next season.

Speaker 2 (12m 6s): And what you mentally test or what are you testing? Yeah,

Speaker 3 (12m 9s): Technically mental, mentally project parent support, which is really important also. So we also have interviews with the parent school level is also really important because for sure if you are already low on school level point of view, it won't get any better with 20 hour more training or a week. So yeah, many things we just,

Speaker 2 (12m 36s): And if you, if you are accepted into the Polisport, then that in two years in, you decide I would like to switch to wrestling. Can you do that? Or, or if you're in, you're in the sport that you were accepted in.

Speaker 3 (12m 49s): Yeah, exactly. Okay. You are in the same spot. If you wanna change, you pass the test. It happens. In fact, really, I got a hockey player that passed the test at Paragliding and succeeded and went to the boys sport for two years actually. And he was there at first for hockey, ice hockey. So yeah, everything can happen for sure, but well it's, it's not the main case.

Speaker 2 (13m 16s): So you're a freshman or whatever they call it here the first year. What are you learning on in the paragliding side? What's the, what does the curriculum look like

Speaker 3 (13m 27s): The first year, the most important is that we will finish your education as a pilot, I would say. So we'll learn you to take off and, and land safe to build some flight plans, save flight plans, short technical instruction in terms it can be as low as this. So making sure that the, the wool curriculum as a normal pilot, autonomous pilot, a lot of exercise are about being autonomous in the sky is completely done, built strong, no weak point anywhere with wind, with drift, with whatever, you know.

And once this is done, we add the, the competitive game. So depending on the profile and on your level at entrance, it can take more or less time to check that you are actually ready to, to go bigger, know to go on some other game and raise game. So,

Speaker 2 (14m 32s): And the goal is world cup?

Speaker 3 (14m 34s): Well, yeah, the, the end of the what what we have done as best is to have in the police force some workup medalist. So that's not only an entrance of the workup, but getting a podium. Podium. Okay. So that was extremely rare. It was the case for Simon Pel. Some others Simon, they managed, but for sure it's, it's extreme scenario.

So the whole main objective is to educate people to competition, to the point where we could finish the job in the arts because we know that at the end of the day they will finish their study somewhere else because it's only an institute. So it's a low level graduation and then they will need to, to build more experience.

Speaker 2 (15m 29s): Ah, okay. So this program, the Polisport is a four year program? Yeah.

Speaker 3 (15m 33s): Okay. Four year or three year, depending on the project, depending on where, when they enter exactly or age they were when they joined. And then most of them will finish their curriculum in whatever, as example engineer or whatever.

Speaker 2 (15m 54s): Okay. So then it'd be the expertise your career more more so than flying.

Speaker 3 (15m 59s): Exactly.

Speaker 2 (15m 60s): Okay. So you would kind of dual major, we would call it at home you would have a, a major in flying and you'd have a major in engineering or chemistry or whatever. Right, exactly. Okay. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (16m 10s): So this structure, SPO is the initial part of the iceberg that will quite you to the highest level as possible. And the last part is in the A, it's called the Paul France. Okay. So it's not, there is no more hope. Now you now we talk about performing and this is in the art. This is now run by Al Cazaux. Okay. He's in charge of this. Yeah. And this is where we, we are willing to finish the job now.

Speaker 2 (16m 40s): And so that's where you're putting the final touches. Is that where you're doing a lot of S I V and or what does that, what does Charles' side look like?

Speaker 3 (16m 48s): Yeah, we can do some ss i v sooner for sure, but then once you are out from the Polisport, the curriculum is much more autonomous because what will happen, every student will be in a different university anyway, it'll be much more harder to gather them. So the schedule is more, okay, we, we, we are going to fly in two days, who's coming? We take the bus, we take Charles, there is a training plan and we follow the trading plan.

We, we fly all together and we back home. It's much more, how to say, in some way friendly and easy and, but it also require

Speaker 2 (17m 31s): Putting good pilots with really good pilots and Exactly. Learning.

Speaker 3 (17m 34s): Exactly. Whereas in the, in the same time it's really, really, the routine is really strong because it's every week look like another one. As example, we are flying on Wednesday and on weekends, every Wednesday, every weekend is dedicated to fly. And then there is theory four hours a week. So it's Tuesday and Thursday and then sport again or the sport on Thursdays and on Tuesdays and it runs like something because everybody is on the same place and it's really easy to better

Speaker 2 (18m 15s): When you say other sport, like cross training, physical training and just doing other balance and

Speaker 3 (18m 20s): Exactly.

Speaker 2 (18m 21s): Okay. Exactly. Just developing as an athlete. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (18m 24s): Yeah. The evaluation, the evolution of a sport now is getting a bit complicated with the weight. And we are, we are more and more training with weightlifting in fact just because we try to protect some problem in case of crash, we also try to protect some issue wearing the all the kilos we need to, to fly. So I must admit that we switch it for, from something quite easy cardio and on into something that is a bit nastier with weight.

Speaker 2 (19m 1s): How many, I think you said 12, but is that right? Is it 12 people a year go into the program?

Speaker 3 (19m 7s): Yeah, it's an average can be less. Oh, okay. The maximum had been 18. 18. It had been a nightmare, had been way too much. 18 people imagine on a daily basis. That's a lot to handle. Yeah. Keep in mind that they are not over 80 people, 18 people aged. They are, they are men of age. Ah, really? So they enter when they are 14 as example. So you are a bit the second father in a way because Oh, this

Speaker 2 (19m 39s): Is high school then this is like 14 to 18. Yeah,

Speaker 3 (19m 43s): One I, yeah, sorry

Speaker 2 (19m 45s): If I thought it was a university which we would call kind of 18 to 22. College. College.

Speaker 3 (19m 50s): This is after is a possibility only in sport. Gotcha. And no other curriculum. So it's a really tiny, tiny part of students. Huh? The major part of a student is below 18. Okay. Or below 18. And then suddenly their father are not here. They're sleeping at the, the institute there. Yeah. And if there is any problem, who would they call them? Well, they knew.

Speaker 2 (20m 16s): Sure. So this is kind of a, we would call that a boarding school. Yeah. You go away to learn. Yeah. Okay. Or go away 'cause you're a problem. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Have you ever done since 97 then? Have you ever looked back at the statistics on those who started and ended up as podium pilots? Yeah. Do you know what it, is it 50%? Is it 20? No,

Speaker 3 (20m 41s): It's much less for sure than 20. But it's actually a, a bit more up to 10. So

Speaker 2 (20m 49s): That's pretty good.

Speaker 3 (20m 50s): It's still as a, if we are talking about getting recognized by the sport ministry as a height level pilot. So it means that you have at a shift, decent result in your career As example, the, the criteria right now is to be part, if I'm not mistaken, of the top 20 on the junior w WPRS lower ranking system.

Yeah. By ranking system. Then they give you a condition of being a, a real athlete. Okay. And about 10% of students manage to, to get, I mean

Speaker 2 (21m 34s): There's a lot of French in that top 20.

Speaker 3 (21m 36s): Yeah, exactly. As

Speaker 2 (21m 38s): You, so it must be working.

Speaker 3 (21m 39s): Yes. Yeah. It's kind of working. Definitely. But you know, the important thing is that this formation is not only about medals, podiums and in the end height level, we have plenty of students that follow life into providing industry in a way or in another being instructors being, we are also a designer for ozone. We have three or four designer for super.

We have, we have plenty of guys that okay, they did not achieve medals, but they are not lost for the system. Look at myself as example, I mean, I didn't achieve and, and managed to grab a medal realistically, but I managed to learn some stuff into coaching paragliding. And the job has been decent, we would say on the last years. And thanks to the, to this police one.

Speaker 2 (22m 38s): Tell me about your own progression through, so you started young and you got into the program. When did you make the switch to coaching? And you, you said you didn't have the results. You know, you, you're in a perfect position to understand why Yeah. As you're teaching these people. So what was it that, that you, you know, if you saw, saw you coming up through the program again, what would it be? What's

Speaker 3 (23m 0s): I exactly. It's, it's getting really personal giving now. But in fact you are right in a way I become a coach to, to fix something I believe was missing when I was a a student. And I, I always have been an impulsive person, quite having difficulties to control my mind and my temper.

And I have attacked every single good position I had in any race when I was kid. Like, you know, I, and I had many because technically I was not so bad. And then the stuff, the game for me was, okay, I'm higher than the other, so I go straight and I try to win this race. And finally I discovered that maybe paragliding is not that simple. In fact, because this race are, are race to uncertainty, you know, the guy who is in front is the most insecure people on earth because he doesn't know nothing at the moment of the rest of the race.

Yeah. Or it'll react where the external is, is this clue cloud working? He's

Speaker 2 (24m 18s): The rabbit. No.

Speaker 3 (24m 19s): Yeah, he is the rabbit. Yeah. And suddenly at the back for sure if he fails, everybody will have the information. If he succeed, everybody will have the information. And I think that yeah, in some ways this could lead to major try error, try error or try error. It's not methodological at all to progress this way. And we, I try to, to understand a bit why it could work differently to train people and to help them fix this kind of problem.

Mm. And yeah, in the end I think I ended up writing stuff and helping people this way.

Speaker 2 (25m 3s): So I have this problem. What what's the fix? What's the short answer fix? When you have the excitement, you don't have the Russ Ogden would call it discipline.

Speaker 3 (25m 15s): Exactly. This discipline, what I, we discuss, we discussed this exactly with dress. We are kind of agreed, I call it control, you call it discipline. It's a two world that designed the exact same stuff. It's not a a, a pass mandatory to follow for sure. Some, some winners are completely attacking from the beginning to the end. I'm just saying that in a paragliding situation, it's not possible to have 120 attackers because the, the, the optimized line is not that wide.

It's just as simple as, as this you can attack on the optimum line. Someone can attack at the left, another one at the right. But I think at the end there is no 120 option. So some other would like to follow. Hmm. And yeah, it's, at first it, it's a bit tricky to go this game. Unfortunately, the most technical guy, the the guy that are technically very, very strong, got a lot of good position to attack.

And if you fail to understand that they are not all attackable attack, typically not technically, then suddenly you are done. Because what you will do is you will manage one, you'll manage two, you'll manage three. And on the fourth one or the fifth one, you'll fail to find the core. Core. The group will go elsewhere and suddenly you will be 80. So this we work with schemes.

Exactly. Schemes. Okay. So you got you. If you analyze your past performance, I'm pretty confident we will find a poor schemes that you have. Yeah. You have it probably in mine. I see you smiling right now. So this is the most, it give this scheme give you the most probability to make it right. And something out of the schemes give you the worst probability to make it right.

And what we are trying to achieve is keeping the pilot into the most powerful schemes for sure. It's not the same for everybody. You can't ask to fly like Meryl Delferriere, but everyone has one and everyone can be the best at their own game. And this is all we try to do.

Speaker 2 (27m 45s): We were talking on the drive up here that you, you helped Ellie and, and Maxime in this year's race in the X Alps from the ground and gave them strategy and in air and helped guide them in the, in the Alps. And you said something that I thought was pretty interesting. You said you're not a mental coach, but I find that hard to believe because the, your students and the, the the, we always say this is a 90% mental game.

You, you're right. There is the, there the technical skills and all the things that go into flying, but like you're talking about there, the schemes and the ma the probability and the math that's really in the head, right? You're, you're, you're trying to, to maximize your flying potential. But it's mostly, it's how, it's the decision making as the course goes through. So I fi I I would imagine you really are a mental coach even though you said not. What do you think? Yeah,

Speaker 3 (28m 43s): I still say no and I can explain why. In fact we all, we always believe that decision making is, is coming from the mine. It's a mistake. Decision-making is not always and only coming for the mine. And I have shortcuts and I use those shortcuts. I will try to explain right now, in fact, depending on the situation you are in, you will take a different decision just because of the situation.

It's not much of your brain that is deciding for you. But the situation in itself, I will take an example that you will hopefully easily understand. You are at the takeoff on the als and the wind is way too strong, like completely too strong. There are clouds coming by it's thunderstorm, it's not good at all. But if you don't take off here right now, right here, you have four howl to go down working on big rocks to this valley, you know, and if you don't go immediately, your contestant will become anyway forever.

So isn't it suddenly harder to, for you to set your mind to say, okay, I resign, I back my glide and I go down. It's even more difficult if, if your glide is the glide is already open and ready to take off, it's if it's back suddenly maybe there is a chance, you know? So suddenly the situation we see that it has a huge impact on how you can behave and react and decide.

And I am a strong believer that we tend to over overpower the, the over represent the power of mind. I really think that the, in some situation you will, you will have no trouble doing things correctly and putting good decision. And I think this is my job. I I don't deny the, the power of the mental and the needs of mental coach in some occasion, but in my experience it's kind of rare when it's needed.

It's purely the mental that that block your performance. It's more the situation where you put yourself in

Speaker 2 (31m 10s): And I feel like you're kind of articulating flow in a different way. You're tapping into what you know how to do anyway. You're subconscious. Let it do the work. Is that what you're, is that more or less, you know, the don't think do

Speaker 3 (31m 23s): Yeah, exactly. Don't s think do because doing is is anyway thinking in a way these are inspired by ecological theory of the spirit of the mind and of this decision or making. We need to stop considering the human brain as a computer that is treating information and making decision. It's not working like that. And it has been proved many times by different studios. They are automatic reaction that are actually taught.

I mean acting is a thought already. There, there there is no need for treatment. There is no need for a black box deciding. And again, the the situation is, is helping you. I will provide a very, very concrete example. You are in front of the hardest transition in the world. So it's a canyon, there are polar line everywhere and there are crocodiles and rivers and it's heavy, very ugly.

And the wind, wind, it's complicated, shitty and everything is really, really wrong. You have the best light of the world, you are really good. Technically everything is good. And then accidentally, you see by cradle Moore passing or Maxime Pinot and they are trying to, to pass this transition together. If you do it by yourself, at least for myself, with my skills, there is a hundred percent chance I, I will fail. I now will die into the crot.

But suddenly if they are close by, they are sinking. I have the best rider of the world. I okay technically followed them. And at the debriefing when I will be asked, how hard was it to pass this, this transition, which transition? Yeah, I didn't even notice that. No, I I I followed Matt or Krieger or whatever. Right, right. You know? Huh. So we, what is the decision now? It's important to also see this way the situation you are him is also saving a lot of assets in some occasion.

Speaker 2 (33m 38s): Interesting. You talked about Merrill and, and ano and having different skills. How do you as a coach adapt to the different little or sometimes I guess bigger differences? How do you help them and what are the, what are the things you're looking for? To be a good coach to different people,

Speaker 3 (33m 56s): You need to know their strong point, like to know them by heart, strong and weak. So I like to know that I, I see exactly where they will, where they risk nothing at all. The situation where this is fixed, they have it forever. They will succeed no matter what. But I also know in which situation they are suffering and having a lot of trouble. This situation are not the same, neither strong point, neither weak point neither for me, neither for for honor, but at least I know when it'll produce good results life and when it won't and when it'll fail.

And I do that for each of the athletes and I am, I stopped thinking that there is a better way, there are no better way, there are personal way. So one can be world champion with one way and the other one can be world champion with another way. So I don't, I'm not interesting at all of about how they do it. It's surprising. I, I don't care about how they do it, I just observe what's working for them and make sure that they keep doing where they are the best.

The same stuff over and over. Rob producing the scheme.

Speaker 2 (35m 27s): You've talked about strengths and weaknesses. Is it more important to focus on strengths or fixing weaknesses?

Speaker 3 (35m 34s): It's much more important than staying in your strength. So this in paragliding this debate is, is over already because if you never, it, it's not about having the super super strength that nobody have. But it's, it's more on no weakness at all. It's much more about never quitting what you know you can do perfectly. And if if you focus on that exactly and try to destroy every stuff that can divide you from what you are usually achieving.

Good for sure. You can be really far, go really far in the, in the progression. So I don't know if I'm really clear, but yeah, it's neither reinforcing strong point, neither on reinforcing weak point. The the, the thing is, the main thing is to never break the usual stuff you are producing and never go into your weak point. So I will make an example more clear because I think it's really theoretical.

But the second you will ask me to lead a task at the very second, you will have trump, you will have big trouble because it's not part of her game at all. So, okay, one transition is okay, more or less she will manage. But then he, he she starts overthinking

Speaker 2 (37m 8s): It. She worries about making a mistake.

Speaker 3 (37m 11s): It's not even that she got stressed because she can like it, it just that it it she it's not what what she does. Yeah. It's not how all the performances produce, how it emerges and how it's working. Yeah. And at the very same time, what's crazy is that the, he is a super pilot. He wants plenty of tasks, but if he starts from a really specifical situation, I can say from the beginning that it's not going to happen today.

And this situation is a bit this detached from the, from the group lower with real attackers attacking all the days in front of him to push too hard. Yeah. He, he will get nervous and he will try to to over push most of the time he he'll manage. But anyway, the fact for him to not being able to win this task right now will be overwhelming and at the end, and I don't think he, he, he managed any task like that.

It's not his way of of creative performance. If you tell him to just control everything and just turn male style, he will get really, really upset because he don't feel like he grab bullies, leading bullies and suddenly he get tense, tense, tense and then came over.

Speaker 2 (38m 37s): I got to see you work well a couple times lately, but especially down in Costello. 'cause I was always setting up next to you and I really wish that I could speak French because you would talk every day to all the French team and all the French pilots I think, or most of them for quite a long time. What are you saying? What are you talking about?

Speaker 3 (38m 57s): Oh, it's a really, it's a routine so it's very easy to, to describe. First thing is we make a a point on the weather, the weather forecast, what is expected today or it's important or it will affect the task, the current task. Then we discuss a lot of where we are in the competition because it's really important. Is it discuss day? Is it a random day? No example, final task. First task.

Speaker 2 (39m 26s): But when you say we but specific to different people or just in general?

Speaker 3 (39m 33s): No, in general.

Speaker 2 (39m 33s): Okay.

Speaker 3 (39m 34s): So I talk to the whole group and the discussion is open. Obviously everyone can can speak and we try to, to figure out where we are in this competition, how it'll affect again the current task. Because obviously if it's discarded and a lot of guys are, have nothing to lose, probably it'll attack a bit more. The rhythm will be a bit more faster. If some guys already discarded a lot, it's discarded.

They maybe don't want to

Speaker 2 (40m 7s): Risk so much.

Speaker 3 (40m 8s): There is too much. So they can be, they can have conflict. It's, it's really useful to get a tactical insight of the, of the situation. Then we go through the task obviously what, what is going to be done today. And yeah, we discuss the option, we plan the final guide, which is really important, the final glide and yeah, that's about it. But I think those discussion are good to get some focus.

The fact that it's a routine, it's just something you do no matter what. It helps also reducing the uncertainty and it helps pilot to get right into the zone. And before takeoff,

Speaker 2 (40m 57s): In your own, back to your own personal journey with this, you were coaching for, what were the years you were coaching?

Speaker 3 (41m 3s): I'm sorry, I didn't get the question.

Speaker 2 (41m 4s): What you, what were the years you were coaching for the poly team? 'cause you're not doing that now, correct?

Speaker 3 (41m 10s): No. At Forest four, I have been eight or nine years, can't remember, but I quit in 2021 at the Poly four. Okay. So the, the youngsters we are talking and now I'm in charge of the, the guys, the the French team. So the, the older guys and I'm still in, in charge right now. And it's been since three years. Almost three

Speaker 2 (41m 37s): Years. And what, what does that look like as a job now? You, you go to all the World Cups, you do the trainings with Yeah. Charles, what is it full-time? Is it year round? Yeah,

Speaker 3 (41m 46s): But coaching is only the, the small tip of the iceberg I would say. Because this is the fun part where you go with the team and fly and coach and help them hopefully getting better. But the whole job is more about structuring the, the height level elite of a sport nationally. So we discussed about, we discussed about Paul France both one in the yard, the other in the, that are helping us to, to provide talents.

But we are others regionally speaking. And I'm in charge of the wool project responsible for the wool project. So I work with the coaches, I work on the budget. I have a really brilliant enter domestic administrative life, like desk office job, unfortunately probably.

Speaker 2 (42m 45s): But it seems like you're having fun. It's not, it's a cool thing to be around this kind of level and helping people achieve. It's one of the best things ever.

Speaker 3 (42m 54s): Yeah, it's a, a very good balance, being honest, because I am a fairly million man as you know. So at the moment you are home and working on papers, the incidentally you, you're the perfect father, father, you go to school with the kids and it's, it's easy. And at some point I also need to go really wide with the guys and put myself in the air with them and, and go on some, into some competition. And I, I love this balance.


Speaker 2 (43m 25s): Ellie was telling me yesterday when we were doing some training that she spent some time with you, some point in the worlds in the middle of the worlds. She her her ankle and got to ride around with you in the car and and watched you work. Yeah. That's fascinating to me is, I mean the US team, we've never had anything like that. We don't have a coach. You are doing it totally on your own. Even at the worlds, they're not really working together. We, we don't know how it's that we haven't learned these skills. So I think, but many people listening would love to know what are you telling the pilots in the air and what are you, how are you helping them from the ground?

Is it, is it just weather observations? Are you talk, are you giving them where other people are? What are you identifying that's helping the pilots in the air? Yeah,

Speaker 3 (44m 12s): As we discussed, I help them mostly to keep into their strong scheme. So I provide all the information. You mentioned it can be for sure weather, but it's mostly life tracking information. We had a super nice edition on the last edition. It was a, a super powerful long glass, I don't know if it's the correct word in English. Telescope. Telescope, yeah. And I was able to match, live the observation with the live tracking getting more and more accurate.

And you could as example say at the final glide if there are some birds or the, if the, it's it's super powerful tool really. So I, I basically try to find the right scenario for, for the team at the, at the briefing. So before the task. And then we work all together to put this scenario into life during the task, helping each others sharing the right information. So this scenario could be a reality basically, or radio protocol is not secret.

Many team leader asking me before what we were sharing because for sure it's not really obvious what to, to say in such case or attackers are announcing the value, the power, power of the value in front because it's very, very important for the other that are at the back to know what's the next value is the, the poor. So they know if they can continue to speed up or if the value is not really good, it means that they have time.

So it's this theory of control that is really important I would say.

Speaker 2 (46m 2s): So the pilots are reporting back as well. They're everybody's part of the bird, the part of the flock.

Speaker 3 (46m 8s): Exactly. Okay. And

Speaker 2 (46m 9s): It's super important. So you're all on one channel or are you able to talk to somebody independently? No, no, no. Everybody's on one channel. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (46m 16s): And, and it's not that they can announce it's a mandatory stuff. If you don't do it, then you will have trouble because all the teammates will say, but we don't have the info. Yeah, no. So this is important and for the people at the back, they are in charge and responsible for announcing the options, tactical options they are seeing because they are the best position to talk about what they see and what the race look like. Yeah. I'm seeing Gene Boomerang red attacking to the left.

Okay. We got rid of all confirmation. Received, well received because it's, it's a novel kill and we work this way trying to keep the, the scenario and the strong scheme to everybody.

Speaker 2 (47m 7s): And then are there in the Argentina worlds two years ago that Russ won, I talked to quite a few of Ssab and, and Russ and Jockey and the, it didn't start off this way, but when it started looking like Russ had a pretty good chance, but even, even quite early on there was people were really assigned roles. You know the, okay, you're gonna be the rabbit, you're gonna be flying with Russ, you're gonna be staying back and give the information like you're talking about will the French team do the same?

What are there assigned positions, In, other words. Okay, we're we're Ono's got the best shot of win in the worlds we're gonna sport on period. Or is it, is it more whoever can win go for it?

Speaker 3 (47m 53s): No, no, it's at first for sure every pilot, individual pilot want to be world champion. And in the French team, many of them have coaches to sure achieve that. So for sure you need to let them express. But again, you want them to express themself on their strong point. So I insist a lot on this for sure. You cannot talk to and tell him, okay, you will fly on the second group today because it'll be useful for the team. It won't work like that 'cause you won't be world champion.

So you know, it will attack. So then you can choose a team. You are not obliged to put your team with three attackers or four attackers and go all in every day. It's not mandatory. So you choose wisely. We have that is in a different game completely. And we are very lucky to have her because she scored big point as a girl and secure a lot of task. And then I made the choice to put Pierre as example because I know his, his strong point are actually really tactical.

He fly the gaga really well, like maybe comparing to drug ti or to, or people that fly in front but not attacking every single position and are really smart in a group. So it was my my choice example. And then this game of assigning role to every part, people in your team will come a bit later with the task because soon you will realize that these people have no chance of winning these guys.

Maybe he has a chance of winning and, and then you, you play the scenario. You, you tend to, to create a scenario that will bring you some medals. This is what you, what you do. And I'm quite sad for some country when I see them flying, they have a chance of medal and they don't even really defend it. You know, the poor girl could be two or first, but she's alone and the teammate, they want to be tense.

Yeah. You know, we, we just don't work like this at all. It's no sense for us tense. It's nothing. It's it's not worth it. Yeah. We will defend the girl anyway. Yeah. Or we'll defend the guy and we, we are playing this game. We defended every, we, we managed to to be 1, 2, 3 and two top women because we defended every single position every day. Not because we left the people

Speaker 2 (50m 28s): To fight on their own. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (50m 29s): Yeah.

Speaker 2 (50m 31s): Fascinating. Okay, XLS we'll leave this, the, this part for the end. I didn't know this that you were, that you were helping Maxime and, and Ellie. What does that look like? That's fascinating to me. So, and, and talk about the intensity of it. It sounded like it was quite intense for you just being on that side and being responsible in a lot of ways for, for some of the decisions that they were making is scary in that race.

Speaker 3 (51m 0s): Yes, it is. I think it's hard for people to realize what could be your contribution if you are not on the, on the terrain. Because you imagine that the xal would be something really practical and you need to be really close to the athlete. And we didn't make this choice, we made the choice of trying to have some external help remotely. So that was my job making it, it the job is rude basically.

So trying to root the athlete and give them information live. So does it work? You, you are in front of a computer in front of your desk and you are playing with your friends who are basically risking their life more or less and tell them how to avoid nastier situation and how to improve their performance. With navigational help, you use every, every single new technology you can have to, to do that.

So you have the welcomes, you have zero to talk to them, to them live. They can reply to you. So this is a discussion, a live discussion while they are flying. You have the weather forecast, you have the tracking position of everybody. You have the the routing system for the ground and you try to Yeah. To, to help them in the best way you can. The problem is, it's, it's not a video game. You are playing, you are playing with your friends, you are taking decision that are shared, but it's still, you are part of the decision of process.

And as things can evolve quite roughly, it can get a bit tense behind the, the screen. As example, I was counting the thunderstorm while Maxime was flying near Chaon and I was counting the distance of the next live tender I got on screen to his position and at some point we got to decide with if it's close enough or if he can just follow his, his pass.

He was requesting information we went to push him and to encourage him this day. But then suddenly you go to sleep and you realize that if the decision is wrong then it's a mess, isn't it?

Speaker 2 (53m 26s): Yeah. And it's a refined line, isn't it?

Speaker 3 (53m 29s): The line is fine. You try to do it as professionally as possible, but for sure the job is exhausting. I know that the drone pilots that are making wars are, are affected by kind of a similar syndrome because you kind of playing to a video game, but it has consequence on the, on the terrain. So Yeah, for sure. I ended up the race. It's, it's crazy to say that because I, I didn't even run or I didn't even, how can I complain if the athlete themself, you know, a shift runs and runs and thousands of verticals and they are fine, but I was wa wasted really.

So yeah,

Speaker 2 (54m 10s): Being a supporter is hard I think at any level I got to see that. I mean they, they get wrecked, they get absolutely destroyed as well. It's, it's tough. I have you done that before in that role?

Speaker 3 (54m 22s): I trained many times with Maxime a bit with early, I trained live with Maxime on some previous race. Okay. Obviously, and I, I always have been around trying to help a bit the athletes, but it was the first time it was so intense and so what to say that yeah. Calculated that I i I would be in charge of of this role. It was the first edition. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (54m 52s): Silly question, but one that everybody wants to know is everybody can be beat of course even Kriegel. But what would it take for, and who would ha who in your opinion has the best shot?

Speaker 3 (55m 4s): Well we all believe that Maxime would would've good chance. And I think it's still the case, but it seems that Kriegel is showing that we would need to have a bit of Luc with the weather. Something a bit smoother, huh? Isn't it? Yeah. Now for sure. Realistically we have again seen a hale flying on a different level when, when the condition were getting nasty and probably at some point in flyable for most men, as I think the logic of this race is a bit dangerous at some point because for sure, I don't want to say anything bad on the performance of critical because everybody can measure it and, and understand that it's huge.

But if you never give up on any, on any silly condition, what happened then? Yeah, I mean that's a question that can be asked. Maybe the, the logic of this race is that if you follow the flight, even in the, the really big, big, big nightmare condition, you will win it. That's okay. Yeah. But is that fair or, I mean, I'm sure even for him he managed all went good of of course his exceptional pilot probably.

Why not? I can accept it better than any other athlete technically. But still the logic seems a bit flawed.

Speaker 2 (56m 40s): Yeah, I mean it's, it's gotten to the point now where if you, like you said your scenario earlier on, it's, it's way too strong. There's too many clouds, it's below, it's rocky, it's a nasty, if you don't take off, you are not gonna win the race. You, you have to and you have to keep doing it over and over and over and over, you know, in 21 it was just ridiculous. It was just the flying in absurd conditions over and over and over. And if you don't do it, you don't have a chance. So it's, you're really rolling the dice. I I would think that, I would think if we had kriegel here, he would say he's rolling the dice less than everybody else.

'cause he trains so much in that stuff. But you're still rolling the dice. You're, to me, I, I don't know. You're right. It's a very good proposition.

Speaker 3 (57m 24s): I think this race is not a competition, it's an adventure. And Craig has shown that he's the best paraglider adventure worldwide. When he was compete on the competition scene, he was, anyway, the best pilot. Kudos to him have a huge respect for what he achieved. It's completely amazing. I like to remind people that there is a difference between an adventure and a competition. On competition. There are institution and there are rules and some of the, of those rules are to protect the pilots from themselves on an adventure.

It's obviously probably not the case. And yeah, we are amazed by the performance and it's getting a very popular race, really probably the best communicative race around paraglider. But again, it's not something really trivial that we are watching. We are watching people risking their life basically on the top spot.

I mean, so, okay. I I respect that and I went involved into that and I, but I have this somewhere in my mind and yeah, I have a lot of respect for the athlete who, who participated in this kind of adventure.

Speaker 2 (58m 57s): It sounds like Ellie, who's sitting here and Maxime will do it again. Will you support them again? Would you do it again? No, I

Speaker 3 (59m 6s): Won't. That's it. Yeah. I told them both. They know I am, I'm not, because for, as I said, for me the, okay, at least for Maxime it's definitive because it's for the top, top places. And the logic is also be discussed for Ellie, I think she has proven that it's possible to finish the race, staying on the safe side of the, of the coin, the, of the situation.

I think we, the, the whole team did a wonderful job to, to make us stay in the reason of this race and to avoid the wind and to fly on the west face when it was too rough and when, and we, yeah, she managed and, and it went not that bad at the front. It was crazy in many occasion. And this, I don't, I'm not willing to, to live again this kind of stress and emotion, but I understand why it's fascinating and I I I would follow the race probably, but with less responsibility.

Speaker 2 (1h 0m 16s): Yeah. That, that's something that we tried better. I think we did a better job this year from the reporting side, which I had never done to, to bring more of that to the audience. But what people don't understand it, the day that Maxime landed in the wind and Damien flew his incredible flight, it was so far from recreational conditions, you can't, I mean, I don't think people understand that. There were no other pilots out that day. I mean, 2015 when we went through the Matterhorn and there were six of us up at the Matterhorn.

No other pilots were up there for a reason. It was wave flying. I mean, it was 60 kilometers an hour up tall and it was that strong that day down in, in the lakes. I mean, it was incredibly strong and it's, it's another game. That's a pretty wild game,

Speaker 3 (1h 1m 8s): Man. You are giving me cheers again. Yeah, yeah, for sure. It's, it's seeing the paragliding community is too soft spoken when it comes to talk about risk. We want to enjoy the game and we don't want to, to think too much about what we risk here. But if you realize and if you develop all the possible scenario when things go wrong with the wind or with the thunderstorm, you'll realize that the paraglider is a very, very little

Speaker 2 (1h 1m 44s): Tool. Flat napkin. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (1h 1m 45s): It's, it's something that is, it's very rudiment to, to cross the a I mean, look at a rescue system, maybe you will manage to draw it and maybe it'll tackle in the glider. If it's suddenly open, you will go God's nowhere. I mean, let, let's discuss all this to the end, you know, or what will you do with your rescue on the pole line or the, or on the crazy river on let's decide it all, all, all what, what we witness is because those kind of accident, we, we have witnessed in the past many, many this, we don't want to talk much.

We want to talk about the fact that they made a 200 or 300 kilometer and 11 hour flight. That's good. Okay. But that was it. And this is not really how to say that? It, it doesn't sell, it, it, it's not really funny. It, yeah, I really think that we, we need to, to explain more the risks. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (1h 2m 56s): Yeah. I don't, I don't think that, I know it doesn't, it just doesn't come across you. You, you get the numbers and it's 11 and a half hour flight and it's 260, you know, it's 267 k. But my, I mean, I was watching the live stuff that day. It was fricking terror. It must've been terrifying to be there. I can't imagine what Damien's head was like at the end of that day. It must've felt like he'd gone down, you know, it must've been in the rink rink with Hamard Ali for 11 and a half hours. That's tough going and hats off to him. It's amazing. But it's also really scary.

Speaker 3 (1h 3m 28s): And the day after was even worse. Yeah. In fact. Yeah. So yeah, they are amazing athlete and amazing pilot, amazing person. And I hope they'll manage to get protected as much as really long in their career. And yeah, because this race is definitely something that put them to that over stress them, them a lot. And

Speaker 2 (1h 3m 54s): So you're, you're, you're going a hundred percent and a whole lot percent beyond Julian. Fascinating. Awesome. Wonderful to share all these thoughts with you and you're very good at articulating it. Thank you very much.

Speaker 3 (1h 4m 6s): Thank you very much giving, appreciate it. Yeah, me too.

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