Mountaineer On World Stage at Freeride World Tour

The following article was written by the Gunnison Country Times

Sometimes, when we quit thinking and start doing, we achieve our goals. 

For Francesca Pavillard-Cain, that's been the case. The daughter of Swiss mountaineer Jean Pavillard, Francesca always wanted to be a professional skier. Now, at 22 years old, she's reaching new heights. 

In 2013, she won the prestigious Freeride World Tour Qualifier in Crested Butte, the Salomon Extreme Freeride event in Taos and was the overall Freeride World Qualifier champion. 

She's traveled the world on skis. She's fluent in three languages. And she's completing a dual-major at Western State Colorado University. Despite her busy schedule, Pavillard-Cain recently took some time from the slopes in Chamonix-Mount Blanc, France, to answer a few questions for the Times. 

How has the Freeride World Tour (FWT)  been so far? 

So far the tour has been amazing. After years of hard work and paying my way for competition, it is great to have the work pay off. We get to travel around the world and ski at some of the most extreme mountains. For a freeskier, this is the dream. The tour does a great job of accommodating the athletes and it truly does feel like a professional tour.

What's it like to be part of a few select skiers on the tour?

It's such an honor to compete with the best skiers and riders in the world. Not to mention the high quality judges, the amazing terrain, and the unbelievable places I get to travel. It is always so shocking to look around and see all the great skiers I get to compete with. 

You had a big win in your hometown at the Crested Butte qualifier in 2013. What was it like qualify for the FWT at "home"?

It was unbelievable. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to do the extremes in Crested Butte and have always dreamed of winning for the women. I have looked up to the women who have competed in Crested Butte like Wendy Fisher, Carrie-Jo (Chernoff Hicks) and more. I was so happy with my season after winning in Taos, New Mexico, and finishing third overall for USCSA nationals. After that I was so content with my season that when I won CB it was really icing on the cake. Crested Butte was another great step and was the high light of my accomplishments from last year.

You've mentioned that when you were younger you always wanted to be a professional skier, but it only happened when you gave up on the expectation. What would you say changed most about your approach?

I have so much to learn and no matter how this season goes I know it will be the experience of a lifetime. I hope to keep an open mind and make the most of this adventure. The change from the qualifiers to the tour does mean more pressure, but I am still doing what I love. With this increase in competition there is even more opportunity for me to grow as a skier and competitor.

The Western State Mountain Sports team is a relatively new entity. How has your involvement helped with your current success?

There is no doubt in my mind that I would not be here today without the Western Mountain Sports program. The support I get from my teammates, coaches, directing staff and teachers is unbelievable. Although Mountain Sports is new, it is getting the recognition it deserves because it is an unbelievable way to compete and go to school. When I tell other competitors about how I manage to compete and go to school they are all so shocked at how amazing an opportunity that Western can offer. 

How do you make time for everything?

Well, it's been hard, but it is very possible. I am finishing up my last two courses before I graduate school. Although, I only have two classes they are both my last capstone classes and therefore it's pretty difficult course material. However, again Western has been amazing working hard to help me get my schoolwork done as I compete. I e-mail constantly with my professors and get the work done on the side. Train rides are great for getting work done. The hard part is getting it done when I am on the mountain. First off, there is the distraction of skiing all day, then I find myself exploring the new places, meeting new people, then of course the meetings and dinners and signings and everything with the tour — not to mention mentally and physically preparing for my run. Some how it gets done! A big motivation is that I am not only working hard but my professors are working tirelessly to make this possible for me so that helps with the constant distraction

What's next — after college, that is? 

As of right now I am taking it one step at a time. I have been fortunate enough that so many amazing opportunities have come along. I intend to continue doing what I love and feel so privileged that it’s been possible so far.

Any last shout-outs?

I just want to thank my sponsors for making everything possible: Western State Colorado University, Western Mountain Sports, Crested Butte Snowsports Foundation, AIARE, Haber Vision, Mountain Hardware, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Rossignol and Colorado Freeskier. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014 - 9:15pm