Simon Fourcade: Rollerskiing, Cycling and a Family
The French team alternates two-week camps with two weeks of home training which is perfect for Simon Fourcade as he rebuilds his strength and juggles family life after a season-ending illness last year.
“We get a plan that includes all of the various pieces of our training for the time at home. Stephane (Bouthiaux) gives up flexibility in how we construct each day at home, so we can fit in family, sponsors and private life. That is a big help for me, because I am very busy.”
Cycling: Mountain, Memorial, and Gorges
Over a 24-hour period, Fourcade squeezed in a moderate length road cycling session, two-plus hours of double-pole rollerskiing and a precision shooting session, plus a bit more skate rollerskiing and more. The afternoon 1:45 cycling session kicked things off, on a route he knows well, passing the small shooting range where he and others learned to shoot, and a memorial lookout dedicated to World War 2 partisans. The ride started with a quick trip through the center of Villard de Lans followed by a long climb through pine forests and then a steep 5 km descent and a harrowing but flat ride through the beautiful but narrow road through the Gorges de la Bourne, getting back home at dinner time. “That is one of my favorites. It is so beautiful. In the ten years I have lived here, I think I have done that loop at least 150 times.”
Family and House
That ride was preceded by rollerski intervals earlier in the day and several hours at the local bank, arranging a home loan. After living in the same apartment for more than a decade, Fourcade will move into a much bigger single family home with girlfriend Clemence and their new son, Adam. “We really need the space. May apartment was fine for a single person, especially since I am away from home so much. But it is way too small for a family.”
Flat 2-Hour Rollerski with a World Champion
Early the next morning, it was time for another volume/base session. At this stage of the training year, athletes like Fourcade are still building up their aerobic base, putting in many hours each week. Morning session: two hours of double-pole roller skiing and company for this long session, in the form of Finnish cross-country skier and 2011 World Champion Matti Heikkinnen. It was the Finn’s first day of three-week visit/training camp with his family in Villard de Lans. When the two met, Fourcade asked, “Flat or uphill?” After a quick reply of “flat,” they were off sharing at first some busy roads with big trucks and cars. The two hugged the shoulder of the road, but otherwise ignoring the passing parade. Unlike the previous day’s cycling tour, this was “flat, relatively;” the Gorges of Meaudret in the first 10 km slice around a mountain, opening up into a lush farming valley. Now of the main road, they clicked off the kilometers on traffic-free lanes, with just some cows for spectators. A pass through the lively village of Autrans, getting ready for a music festival ended the flat with a climb up a 1200 meter pass before heading back into the valley. More cows, farm lanes and some mild climbing closed the morning with a fast steep incline back home. The Villard de Lans resident and the visitor shook hands (Fourcade sported a large blister on his palm) before going their separate ways. This was another of the 33-year-old’s favorite loops. “I easily have done that tour more than 300 times,” he added casually.
Shooting Range Roots
Although close to noon, the mid-day meal would have to wait. A dry shirt on and rifle in hand, it was time for a quick trip to the small shooting range up in the forest for some solo precision shooting. Opening the barn-like door to a seldom used four-point range, Fourcade said, “Martin, me, Jean Guillaume, Marie and Anais Chevalier all started our shooting careers here. I need to do some precision work on my first shot. I’ve had problems with that first shot for some time. I’m not sure what it is, but I am working on it.” The next hour was simply, set-up, fire one shot, look thorough the spotting scope and repeat. The result: some were fine but others were…
Proud, Happy, but Busy Dad
Another session completed; lunch and the family awaited. Fourcade finished the meal while Clemence tended young Adam, who was also hungry from a hard shopping trip in his buggy. The new father beamed as he looked at his first child. “I did not think I was ready for a family, but I am really happy now. Words cannot describe the feeling.” However that small baby has changed the veteran biathlete’s life. “Sleeping is a bit harder, but Clemence really takes care of him at night so I can get my rest; then I take over for a bit before training. I do not get as many afternoon naps in between training. Now I think more about my life after biathlon than before, but I am very focused on my sport I have a business, Simon Fourcade Nordic and want to take care of my family. The move to the new house in August will make our life better. ” Cycling, rollerskiing, shooting, new house, a photo shoot, cooking and helping with the baby; Simon Fourcade barely slows down.
On the Horizon: Camps and Competitions
Still, another two-week training camp in Norway is coming up next week; the new season and Pyeongchang are on the horizon. “I am going to do all of the races (Blink Festivalen uphill climb and biathlon races) in Norway, even though I might not be at my best. It has been a long time since my last race; I just need to do them…I really want to have a good season. I have not completed any of the last four seasons, due either to illness or injury. Now I am training well and feeling good. I want to be at my best, not battling for 30th place.”