Boardercross Interview: Philippe Conte

of France

What were the best and worst boardercross events of 1998/99?

For me, the best BX last season was at The Canyons, Utah. A long race, technical, and very engaged. Laax finals were also great, for the same points. In those races, you can really make the difference.

What makes a good boardercross racer?

The background really helps. To be a good freerider, able to handle any situation. And to be a fighter!!!

Is boardercross all luck?

That’s what I was thinking two seasons ago! But after the last one, it seems like it's not any more. There were always the same guys on the podium. I was one of them, with nine races in the top three.

Why do you think boardercross has become popular?

It really sticks to what people want to see. Starts in a line, jumps, crashes, and thrill! Our style makes it even more impressive.

What is the difference between boardercross and the other forms of snowboard competition?

It's not as individual as the other ones, and BX is becoming more popular because it’s easy to understand-you don’t need to understand to enjoy watching it! It is now part of the extreme sports,

that most of the people want to see. You can easily compare it to motocross without the big light show ... one day, maybe!!

Who do you consider the most up-and-coming boardercross riders?

Well, Shaun is still The Man! But some guys like Chris Maierhofer will be fast next season. We can also expect some young kickin’ass grommets. For women, I would say Ine Potzl again, or Maelle Ricker.

How do you train for racing boardercross?

I try to train as little as I can, just because there are not so many BX training courses. I just practice sports like surfing, windsurfing … I have to think about something else until the season starts again. I go jogging and do only fast reactions sports. BX is more a feeling race, than something prepared like slalom or pipe.

Give some tips on riding the following: berms/banks, jumps, whoops.

The banks are like sled banks, so you can get more speed, or loose speed! Try to stay as flat as you can with your board on the snow. The more you can go up in the bank, the more speed you’ll get.

For jumps, the best is to know exactly the speed you need. So the speedcheck is very important. Try the jump a couple of times at different speeds, and get the one that will make you fly to the best impact point, where you won’t lose speed. Whoops are very technical-big work is in the legs and abdominals. On top of the whoop, let your leg go up underneath, but contract abdominals as soon as you can to stick again on the snow. Your arms

can help too.

What equipment do you race on and why? Describe boards and boots.

I now ride a Santa Cruz board. A basic 172 cm, cut to 167 cm. A stiff board, very aggressive, but still easy to ride. I can do my own boards, so it’s an advantage. Boots are FLOW, and bindings as well.

Long high back, for good backsides, and stiff binding for precision and power in turns.

When did you first compete in boardercross?

First BX was at Sierra@Tahoe in 1997 for the World Champs. I finished sixth, and it was a revelation. I enjoyed it so much!! I raced in the semis with Shaun and Terje Haakonsen, and I got first.

Should boardercross be in the Olympics?

I don’t think so. We are very independent now, and it’s still growing. We will not need Olympics to make BX a big sport.

What kind of protection do you wear?

I wear the Dainese back and elbow jacket, plus ass protector, and knees protections. I saw too many people injured because they didn’t wear any of those.

Who will win the tour (Swatch and ISF) in 1999/00?

This coming season will be hard. There are like ten gguys that can win the tour. There is no real leader anymore.

What risks are involved in boardercross?

You just need to be aware of it. With experience you know that some situations can be dangerous. But now, most of the racers know each other quite well, so there are no surprises. The only problems come

from unusual participants.

If you could share one piece of advice with an amateur racer, what would it be?

Bx is not a rollerball game. Just take it easy, and race with your head. Those who turn their brain off, never last long. Train your start, ride as fast as you can on every kind of slope, particularly the bumpy

ones. You’ll learn how to absorb or jump, in order to keep your speed.

What injuries have you suffered while racing boardercross?

The only injury was two seasons ago in the Laax finals. During the time trials, one jumps was not very big, the speed was. And our dear ladies skidded on the landing area so it generated bad bumps, and I

could not avoid it. I landed on the wrong edge, at 30 mph, straight on my face. Thanks to my helmet, I only lost memory, but it cost me the finals, and the whole night at the hospital, a nurse checking on me

every hour.

What is the main thing that people don’t understand about boardercross?

The format! If you don’t have a paper explaining all of it, you don’t get it. But all you have to remember, is that, as long as you are in the first three guys crossing the line, you’re still in the race.

What makes a good boardercross course?

The length, the technical parts, and the jumps. The best course is the one that you race 100% from the start till the finish. No speedcheck, all you need is big balls. But it also has to be safe, especially for the


What is the difference between riders who win and the ones who don't, what are the winners doing differently?

It is pretty easy to see if somebody can be good or not. BX is just the reflect of your acts in life. Or you want to fight, or you don’t. You can be the best technically, but if you miss that victory taste, just forget

it. Some guys are very fast in time trials, but when they have to deal with 5 other ones in the same run, it’s another story. I will not give you my winning secrets, just because I don’t have any. All I want is to be the winner! Whatever race it is. A very famous brand used to say JUST DO IT!

How much does it cost to compete for a year?

All incuded, with training and travel expenses, it costs around

15, 000 dollars for the season.