We’ve all heard the name Thibaut Dailland. We all know his prowess behind the boat as an overall skier and we’ve seen him dominate the podium. But to many, Thibaut is a mysterious character among the throng of famed elite athletes in the water sports arena. What’s Thibaut’s story? Where did he come from? How did he get so good? How do you even say his name? Connelly Skis sat down with their decorated team athlete to get the low-down behind his story.
Tell me about your upbringing and what is was like to grow up in Mauritius.
There is nothing that compares to growing up on an island, even down to what the people wear. Most days shoes and and a shirt were optional for me. Despite the fact that I was going to school, I was still able to enjoy all the benefits of living in a vacation destination - kitesurfing, scuba diving, surfing, etc. Living life near the ocean was amazing. However, having a home on a beach front definitely doesn’t keep your mind focused when it comes to your studies haha
How is your first and last name said correctly? We American’s have a difficult time with it haha
Thibaut Dailland: Pronunciation is “T-BO Dayland”
How did you get involved in skiing and where did you ski most of your life?
I was born and raised in Ivory Coast, Africa until the age of 14 when we moved to Mauritius Island. My dad was a surfer and my mom took up water skiing as a hobby on weekends. Before too long, my mom convinced my dad to get behind the boat. He was hooked from the beginning and the rest is practically history when it came to my ski career. My dad was my first coach, but at 10 years old I caught the eye of Tanguy Benet (also an Ivory Coast native) who saw potential in my skills and coached me all the way until I was 21.
When did you first come over to the states and why?
I first came to the U.S. in 2001 when I was 11 years old. Tanguy Benet was working at Swiss Ski School and persuaded me to come train with him and a group of skiers. Wow was that a cool experience! I practically had stars in my eyes stepping foot into America and getting to train with professional skiers like Marco Riva, Anais Amade, Sebastien Cans, Marina Mosti, Angeliki Andriopoulou and Carlos Allais. It was a dream come true!
What’s a typical day like for you when you are training hard (what time you get up; warm ups; what you eat in a day; etc.)?
I always wake up around 6am, which is 2 hours before my first set.
7:15 - I start my warm up
8am – My first slalom set
10 to 11am – Two jump sets
12pm – Lunch time
2pm to 3pm – Trick set (runs)
4pm – Trick set (New tricks)
I’m avoiding alcohol as much as I can. Getting good rest is also important to me so I don’t stay out late very often. The life of an overall skier demands a lot, but the support of my friends, family and girlfriend and the motivation to succeed fuels me every day to charge forward.
Name three words that describe you.
Energetic; Persistent; Funny
What’s a goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year?
My goals are to become the new Overall World Champion in 2019 and have a successful professional career.
What are you happiest doing when you’re not water skiing?
I’m addicted to sports. So if you don’t see me on the lake, I’m probably off somewhere kitesurfing, surfing, golfing, biking or playing tennis. I also love to spend time with my family and my girlfriend.
What’s your personal motto?
“Hard work always pays off”
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
In 2004, Ivory Coast was undergoing a civil war. As a result, my mother, two brothers and I were urgently repatriated directly to France, leaving my father behind to take care of the house and his business. Sadly, we had to leave for a year without him, which is when we decided to start a new life on Mauritius Island. Thankfully, my father was able to join us after we settled down.
What is something that you really dislike doing?
Jumping in a tail wind!
What makes your slalom style so unique looking? Is there a technique you have heavily focused on that makes you look so smooth through the course?
I focus a lot on my balance over the ski. The less unnecessary movements I have the more efficient and smooth I am in the course. Honing that aspect has helped me to be more consistent with my slalom scores. But it’s more than just the technique, working with my sponsor Connelly Skis and creating a ride that perfectly fits my style has been key to helping me become a better slalom skier.
A few last things you should know about Thibaut:
Favorite food: Chicken Curry from Mauritius
Guilty pleasure: ice cream with chocolate sauce (every Sunday)
Favorite event: King of Darkness
Something most people don’t know about him: I’m a horrible singer!