I grew up in France but now ski for the UK

A British-French skiing champion who grew up in Grenoble but now competes for  the UK’s national ski team has told Connexion of his Olympic dreams.

25 December 2019
By Connexion journalist

Matéo Jeannesson is only 15 and says life could not be any better as he heads off to compete for GB Snowsports in the US and Canada this month.

“Competing in the 2019/20 FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup is a dream come true. I never expected this to happen to me so young,” he said.

His mother Anna said the French ski team were slow to make Matéo an offer but GB Snowsports, the British team, offered him an unbeatable deal in terms of finance and training.

“Since joining GB Snowsports, I’ve travelled all over: China, Finland and Sweden. In Dubai, we skied inside a massive dome, it was just amazing. And it isn’t over yet!

“Competing this month is going to be fantastic. One of the great things is meeting all my heroes, including world champ-ion Mikaël Kingsbury. Training on the same courses as him is a real thrill.”

Being so much younger than everyone else, he does not expect to win this year.

“This season, for me, is all about discovering the slopes, the competitions, the people, getting used to competing at that level. I’m aiming to get good results at European level, however.”

In the freestyle sport, mogul skiing means racing down a course filled with hillocks of snow (moguls) and including two freestyle jumps.

“So when you do your run, the judges score your skiing technique, jumping technique and performance, as well as your time, and that score determines your rank.

“The jumps are freestyle so it’s up to the competitors to make them as spectacular as possible.”

As well as training and competing, Matéo is studying for A-levels in maths, further maths and physics, by correspondence.

His British mother Anna Jeannesson, a university teacher, says: “Both he and his brother Tom were home-schooled so as to give them time to ski.

“Matéo was skiing before he could walk, so both boys used the CNED [French education by correspondence] system, but Matéo has now changed and is doing A- levels instead of a bac.”

Matéo’s French father Ben has been his coach as well as his academic teacher, and brother Tom is his training partner.

Both brothers were born and brought up in France, and have dual British and French nationality.

“Since joining GB Snowsports, I’ve become more British,” says Matéo.

“I speak English more often, am closer to the culture, spend more time with British people, and of course training sessions like trampoline are in English.

“I enjoy doing my A-levels too. I don’t have an eye on any other career than skiing, but I just like those subjects and think they will give more opportunities for interesting careers – later on, perhaps.”

With a foot in both countries, his ambition is to go to the Winter Olympics 2022 in Beijing, by which time he will be 17.

“I want to get to the highest levels of the sport, and be the best.”

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