a conversation with Delphine Claudel – FasterSkier.com

Delphine Claudel (FRA) competes in a skate sprint qualification, in 2019, Davos, Switzerland (Photo: NordicFocus)

Living in France for a year, and with ski racing never far from my mind, I wanted to learn more about the athletes and the system here, especially for the women. If the French men’s team is a force to be reckoned with, both in sprint and distance, the results, even the athletes, on the women’s side are rare. For example, at the World Championships in Oberstdorf in Germany last season, the French men’s relay team finished third while on the women’s side, they did not field a team. To start my investigation, I contacted Delphine Claudel, the only member of the A team on the women’s side representing France during the 2020/21 season and an athlete who continues to gain in success.

Delphine Claudel (FRA) goes through a sunny championship in Oberstdorf, Germany (Photo: Nordic Focus)

Claudel’s first full World Cup season took place in 2018/19 and she finished the year 69th overall and 53rd in distance standings. That same season, she achieved three top-ten rankings at the U23 Championships in Lahti, Finland. The following season (2019/20), Claudel was 32nd in the overall World Cup standings and 26th in the distance at the end of the season. This year, it has improved even further, finishing 26th overall and 23rd in the distance standings. In addition, she has scored three top ten classifications this season, including a podium in the famous climb to Alpe Cermis, the last stage of the Tour de Ski.

First three at the top of the hill, Jessie Diggins (USA), Ebba Andersson (SWE), Delphine Claudel (FRA) (lr) in the 2021 edition of the Tour de Ski. (Photo: NordicFocus)


Claudel was kind enough to answer my elementary level French emails and the following interview has been translated.

Faster Skier: Can you give us a little insight into yourself? How did you start skiing and what made you want to continue competing at the highest level?

Delphine Claudel: I started cross-country skiing at the age of 10 thanks to school friends who convinced me to come and try. I immediately liked the atmosphere, being outside, having fun on the skis, so I stayed and joined the ski club in my town. Over the years, I have continued to practice cross-country skiing. I quit other sports, which I had been practicing for a long time, to go to college with a ski section. I started doing national competitions. I joined a high school with a cross-country ski development center and got a taste of international competitions. My results were good and I joined the France team. I have always loved sports and have always imagined myself playing sports. I have devoted myself fully to this ever since and love it.

FS: You joined “L’Armée de Champions” (which is part of the French army) last October, can you explain a bit what that means?

DC: The Army of Champions is a turning point in my life as a high level athlete. The army is my biggest support to date. This allows me to practice my sport 100% while being paid. Before, I played my sport but I could not live fully from it, now I do. I am part of the military as a top athlete. I represent their values ​​and France in my competitions.

Delphine Claudel (FRA) pre-tour stage in Toblach, Italy. (Photo: NordicFocus)

FS: Despite all the challenges with COVID you have had a solid season this year including your first podium and three top ten results, can you talk a little about that success?

DC: The 2020-2021 season is for me the most beautiful that I have done so far in my career. Despite the health crisis, our World Cup circuit could be organized. Thanks to that, we were able to have a season full of competitions. I was able to express myself as I wanted and I won my first World Cup podium, on a legendary stage of the Tour de Ski. I am very proud of this performance and also of my great places in the top 10. I particularly remember my 7th place at the Oberstdorf world championships in skiathlon which allowed me to really reach the level I had. product. My training and my will has paid off this season, the psychological barriers have broken down. A new season will begin. I leave [last season] motivated and confident that I can achieve even better results.

FS: You were the only woman named in the 2020/21 Women’s A Team of L’Équipe de France and the only woman representing France at many World Cups this season, is it still difficult? Mainly traveling and being on the road for longer periods of time?

DC: Unfortunately, the season has been complicated for our women’s team due to the coronavirus pandemic and some injuries. I was often alone for these reasons. I am fortunate to have a coach who listens and allows me to feel comfortable and relaxed during competitions. The men’s team is great with me too, so I managed to have fun with them. From now on, the objective is to build a stronger female team because the competition that we can create between us can only be beneficial for the whole team.

Delphine Claudel (FRA) in a 10km skate in Toblach, Italy. (Photo: NordicFocus)

FS: As the next year of training begins and you head into the season ahead, what are some of your goals and aspirations for this year?

DC: This season, all eyes and all goals are on the Beijing Olympics. Two cross-country races give me great desire and I will prepare myself as best I can to reach the best possible places. I’ve shown great things, now I’m going to practice showing great things. However, I do not forget all the competitions besides this great event. The Tour de Ski is a concept that I particularly like. It’s a demanding week that requires a lot of seriousness and that puts the spotlight on all-around athletes. The stages are all superb and the last event particularly pleases me. In addition, other major World Cup stages will take place, such as the one organized in France in Prémanon (provisionally scheduled for January 15-16, 2022). It’s a chance to be able to host the circuit with us. Hoping that our families and friends can come and encourage us, it is all the more motivating, but I take the days one by one to build a solid preparation. Above all, I want to have fun doing what I’m doing and winter is still far away. For the rest, nothing is set in stone, we’ll see over time.

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