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Continuing our ‘Mark of a champion’ series, we put French slalom powerhouse and 2019 PWA Slalom World Champion, Pierre Mortefon, under the spotlight as he reveals the secrets behind his success.

Photos: PWA/Carter

This feature was originally published in our October issue.


Being the best I can be is something really important to me. I think this personality trait is the same for most champions in every single sport, but also in life in general. For myself I think it’s a family story, for example it was not easy to play board games when I was young, because we all wanted to be the best and win. We were always very competitive.


To be a champion you work! All the great champions worked and trained as much as humanly possible to try and be the best in all the different areas of their sports. For sure hard work is not enough on its own, you also need some natural skills, but to be a champion or one of the best, you have to work hard and there is no escaping that. I would say it is sometimes difficult to deal with this because it’s also important to work smartly! Sometimes I am scared because I am not training while my rivals are, but it’s also important sometimes to take advantage of resting or taking a family break. All aspects of life are important to be the best!


There are for sure plenty of moments that changed my life and made me who I am. When I started windsurfing when I was around seven years old, during the summer I was sailing as much as I could. The trainer of the sailing club where I was windsurfing had to take me out of the water for lunch every day; back then I could have sailed seven hours in a row! A few years back I was leading the Turkish PWA event before the last day. It was a crazy experience! I lost 4 or 5 places in the final race and I was pretty devastated. On the other hand, in my head I knew that I had the ability to be at the top and that one day I would come back stronger and I would be able to win!

I am a big fan of sport in general, so I really like to learn about champions in many different sports! In France there are plenty of great athletes, one I really like at the moment is a guy doing a completely different sport, the biathlon, and his name is Martin Fourcade, a five-time Olympic champion and thirteen-time World Champion. He is a really cool champion, a normal guy who worked really hard to win a lot of events while staying humble at the same time.


I think one of the best decisions I have made was to have a family, helping me keep a normal life alongside my sporting career. My family give me great support and this is important. There have not been many bad decisions over the last few years. I have had a happy life, nice results and now a world title. All the small defeats have managed to change me and help me work harder and learn from them.


To achieve your goal and move forward you need a balanced life, where you are happy in all the different segments of your life. I think I have it! To be the best you need so many things to come together at the same time. And to be able to achieve all of them you need balance! It’s not the easiest, but it’s really important, you need to know yourself that you are content!


I am chasing victory and being the best at what I do! Second best is not the goal. I want to win races and for this I know I need to work. Training is really important, but I think I am just in love with what I do, and to be able to push hard you need to find pleasure in what you do. At the moment I am also travelling a lot and I am not often home with my family and my son. That’s difficult, but it also helps me work as hard as possible while I am away!


It’s not easy to deal with stress and pressure when racing or at events. Dealing with this comes with time, with the experiences you get event after event and season after season. I work with some people on this subject to find the best solution for me to deal with the mental side. To climb the last stairs, the mental aspect of winning is super important. It’s all about balance; you need stress, but the good sort of stress! It’s easy when you are fully under pressure, you need to focus on your racing, not the other things and be efficient. I just have one word in my mind in the heat of the moment – enjoy!


I love to be the fastest and pass the finishing line in the lead. I also really enjoy clean, fair racing, when you are fighting hard, and you are trying to pass the other top riders. I also love tough conditions.


I have focus, I am obstinate and passionate! I love life!


I don’t really spend time with Antoine or Matteo for example. Not that I have a problem with them; for me it’s normal to stay away from the competition. It is sometimes good to train though a bit with them away from the contests to push yourself and be in real racing conditions, so you are ready for actual events.


I am a Dad, so now it’s super easy for me to escape windsurfing life! It brings me quickly back to reality when I am at home dealing with my son!

Winning is what it is all about! Money is just a help to have a good life, but it doesn’t taste the same as that winning feeling!


I like to keep my diet natural! I eat a strong salty breakfast with eggs and then sometimes a quick PowerBar after training. I eat a big lunch again after sailing or a training session. I try to eat enough to be able to stay active until dinner. I am not really into powder or any artificial supplements.


There is a saying that the formula for winning is 33% talent, 33% work and 33% luck. But luck is more the opportunity that you are able to create from the other 66%!


Depending on the time of the year, the busiest weeks can have eight hours gym, twenty hours sailing and three hours recovery. But we also have to deal with lots of other things like preparing equipment or organizing travel!

I guess my ‘Rocky’ moment was in New Caledonia this year where I was disqualified at the first race of the final event of the tour! Somehow, I managed to pass from last place at the beginning of the event, to a victory at the end of the final day, in the last race of the week and the end of the year!


When you decide to do something, do it completely!

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