The Limelight: 16-year-old Swiss phenom Thibault Magnin at 2017 USASA Nationals
Vitals | Thibault Magnin
Age: 16 years old, 13 years on skis
Birthplace: Fribourg, Switzerland; lives in Bulle, Switzerland and Summit County
Home mountain: Copper Mountain
Career slopestyle highlights: 1st, 2017 USASA Rocky Mountain Division ski slopestyle rankings (youth men 16-17); 6th, 2017 USASA National ski slopestyle rankings (youth men 16-17); Woodward Copper Barn edits
Shout outs: Movement skis, Roxa ski boots, Giro snow, Grep gloves, Rewoolution, Intershop and Ardentis. Also a shot out to Team Breckenridge and Dean Spirito!
Browse through Thibault Magnin’s trick wish list and you’d think it was the winning run from a ski slopestyle contest: unnatural double cork 1080, switch 1260, triple cork 1440. The longhaired native of Fribourg, Switzerland hasn’t mastered the trio — yet — but, then again, he’s just 16 years old. He’s got plenty of time to perfect those dizzying spins before going up against big dogs like Nick Goepper, Gus Kenworthy, Joss Christensen and Bobby Brown. And some of those guys don’t even have triple cork 14s locked down.
“Since I was young I have always been into action sports, and with my little brother, Noah, we were always jumping around and doing a flip out of every thing we would find in the street,” said Magnin, whose first name is pronounced “Tee-bow,” like ESPN’s favorite quarterback-turned-outfielder. “And my dad has a ski shop in Swtzerland, which I also think that pushed me into.”
Before taking the pro circuit by storm, Magnin first has to blow away his peers at the 2017 USA Snowboard and Freeski Association National Championships from April 1-12 at his home hill, Copper Mountain. He enters the contest at No. 6 overall in the USASA ski slopestyle rankings, and with a little help from home-field advantage he hopes to claim the overall title.
“Having the biggest competition of the year here in Summit is awesome, as it provides a home advantage (and) I know what conditions to expect,” Magnin said about Nationals. “Also, that way it’s easier for my friends to come watch and support me.”
Magnin now lives thousands of miles from home, but since the age of 3 all he’s ever wanted to do is ski, and like so many freeskiers he started young with alpine racing. Slalom and giant slalom gave him a “good foundation and technique,” he said, and by 12 years old he was ready to combine his love of skiing with love of gymnastics on the slopestyle course. He soon hooked up with Chris Hawks, a former pro and longtime head coach for Hawks Freeride of Team Breckenridge, and has hardly slowed down over the past four years.
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Magnin’s first big-time contest was the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Junior Nationals in Sun Valley, Idaho. He’s always been a natural on the slope course — his go-to tricks are a massive double cork 1080 and even bigger layout double backflip — but that first trip to Junior Nationals taught him what it takes to relax, settle and perform when the pressure is on.
“During a competition I always try to stay calm, and the most important for me, have fun,” Magnin said. “(That) helps me a lot when competing.”
An overall title at USASA Nationals would do wonders for Magnin’s young career, but even without a formal title he’s well on his way to reaching the sport’s top tiers. He regularly films with the Woodward Copper crew — stop by his self-titled Vimeo page to check out his latest rollerblade training edit from the foam pit — and his end-of-season edit will go live after Nationals wraps up on April 12. He’s got 2,738 followers and counting on Instagram (@thib_magnin) and coach Hawks says he has a good chance to win the 16-17 division at Nationals.
For now, though, Magnin will continue working on the trio of elusive tricks that stand between he and the big shows.
“(I’ll) keep improving until one day I can reach International-level competitions, such as Dew Tour, X Games and even Olympics,” Magnin said. “I feel privileged being able to work hard and continuously improve in a sport I feel so passionate about.”
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