Mathilde Gremaud


Our house was a kind of department store for sports equipment.

Kayaks, canoes, balls of all sizes and weights, rollerblades: everywhere you turned there was something related to sport.

The paradise of physical activity: a playground all for us.

My entire universe. Mine and my sisters.

Im the middle one, two years younger than the eldest, and five years older than the youngest. We were like a little gang, like a team, and maybe we still are.


Sports have been our common language, since day one.

A way to relate, to compete, to really get to know each other, and, together, a way to get to know the world outside.

A way to understand who I was, and who we were.

Mathilde Gremaud

I don't remember ever feeling in competition with them.

Not even once.

But instead I remember the time spent playing.

The thrill of discovering and trying a new discipline.

The desire to challenge each other, to see who was better, to improve together.

All the images that come to mind when I think of my childhood are our images.

The summers spent jumping on the trampoline, or at the skatepark with the sun, high in the sky, burning our faces.

The scraped knees.

The races.

The games.

Mathilde Gremaud
Mathilde Gremaud

Dad was a skier, and we owe all this sporting culture to him.

From athletics, perhaps the only sport where a bit of competition between sisters arose, to football. From skating to, obviously, skiing.

Skiing has always been in our DNA, and for that, unlike all other sports, you need parental support to get started.

Thanks to dad's career, living on the snow was natural for us.

A necessary step to grow up.

What wasn't at all obvious was the fact that I would fall in love with freestyle.

The jumps, the evolutions, the adrenaline: I got my nose into it at 13 and never looked back.

I have always had excellent coordination, I think thanks to trampoline training, and when I discovered that I could do the same things even with skis attached to my feet, everything changed.

Mathilde Gremaud

© Elmar Bossard / Red Bull Content Pool

I didn't even know it was a real sport.

I didn't care that there were competitions.

I was too young and too excited to worry about having dreams about it. I just wanted that feeling of freedom.

I wanted to be able to choose a different thing to do, to try, in every single run.

In every single jump.

So I began, little by little, to abandon all other games and all other sports, and to spend as much time as I could on the snow, to try out my tricks.

Day after day I became better and better.

My family did not stop being present, even if they never pushed or forced in any direction.

In our hometown there was only a small team, and the competitions I could participate in were very few.

Not that I cared that much.

Mathilde Gremaud

© Lorenz Richard / Red Bull Content Pool

Or rather: I didn't care that much until 2016, the year I participated in the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway, the moment that changed my entire perception of the future.

Only there I did understand that it was really possible to travel and compete, thanks to freestyle. Only in front of the Five Circles I did realize that that passion was not just mine, but that of thousands of other boys and girls.

Only in front of the Olympics I did start to dream big.

I never had doubts, not until the day I realized that being a professional had already become my life.

Up until that point, it had just been pure and simple fun.

Then everything happened extremely quickly: the Youth Games, my first injury, the Games for the grown-ups, the real ones.

All in the space of a couple of years.

I didn't even have time to fully appreciate the new perspective, the ambitious one, that of Pyeongchang 2018, that I got hurt.

A stupid injury, a knee problem, but it was the first, and the first is always a discovery. Whether good or bad is up to you.

Your first injury tells you a lot about what an athlete you will be.

I started to wonder if I was really ready to face rehab.

I started to wonder if I really wanted to take the risk of ruining my life for the sport, because when I grow up I would like to be healthy enough to ski free, as often as I want.

Mathilde Gremaud

© Dominic Berchtold / Red Bull Content Pool

Simple thoughts.

Silly thoughts.

Thoughts of a young girl, confused by the magnitude of the Olympics and the speed with which things were changing.

So when it actually came time to leave for Korea, I didn't know what to expect.

Not from me, nor from others.

I had recovered from my knee problem just in time, and I wasn't at all sure that they would call me up for the Games. I hadn't even had time to get back into official competitions, and for this reason I felt rather insecure.

When I arrived at the Village, however, everything disappeared and I rediscovered the lightness of the beginning. I stopped thinking, and started looking around, enjoying the beauty of the moment and skiing with my head free.

Just being there was a gift.

It was already enough.

Maybe that's why that silver was so sweet.

It was surprising.


Almost naive.

And naive is what I feel when I look back at the images of the moment I actually realized I had come second.

Mathilde Gremaud

© Lorenz Richard / Red Bull Content Pool

That was the beginning of a new life, one that follows the path of professionalism.

Four years later, in Beijing, I felt the weight of expectations and my own desire to do something important.

The ups and downs experienced during the lead-up to the Games completely disappeared during the lighting of the cauldron, as if it evaporated in the flames.

I managed to have fun in the race, but in a different way than I had before.

Always with that little hidden thought in the back of the brain.

Always with the awareness that being there was no longer enough for me.

That I wanted something else.

Today I look at the future with different, more mature and perhaps more disenchanted eyes.

I know very well that sport has its rules and its complications.

I know that the athlete is fed by the hunger for greatness and the desire for normality at the same time.

I know that Im not what I do, but that what I do helps me build who I am.

I know that defeat and victory are processed differently in the head and heart, because in sport justice is not the same for everyone.

But I also know that, deep down, I continue to be the daughter of my parents and their culture, the middle sister, the one who can't sit still and who loves to play sports.

The one who was only interested in skiing, jumping and feeling free.

Mathilde Gremaud / Contributor

Mathilde Gremaud