2015 - World record 223,30 km/h

Eric Barone > 2015 – World record 223,30 km/h

WORLD RECORD

2015

March 28, an amazing run!

5:15 am Briefing with all the teams before getting on the snow grooming machines. During the briefing, the Vars weather station announced violent winds at the top which could strongly compromise the attempt. There were only 3 weeks left in the winter season so it wouldn’t be possible to come back later due to the lack of snow, but, perhaps, better weather. Anyway, my team could no longer be mobilized because of other professional obligations.

Upon hearing the news, I withdrew into myself in order to eliminate the negative stress which could have an impact on the coming moments..

6:00 am My team at the top was busy setting up the departure under Marc’s instructions as well as positioning the photographers and cameramen on the slope. This was a dangerous and delicate operation due to the hostile environment which was amplified by the wind gusts, freezing temperatures and ice covered snow despite a clear sky before the rising sun. The departure set up with its launch protocol was repeated by each member of the team at his station. At the same time, the resort’s service, ski run supervisors and the snow groomers crisscrossed the slope.

The carefully chosen words by Philippe Billy, “Mr. Speed”, with his career of high level skiing were welcome. For decades he has managed this incredible speed slope in Vars and Philippe often has the good words to reassure and say stop when things weren’t correct. It was important to listen.

Marc regularly came to see me in the snow groomer to reassure me so I was kept me posted on the smallest changes in the situation. At the end of the day, I was the one to make the final decision to start. The stakes were high not only because of the weather, but also financially. I had to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

7:30 am Marc explained the situation to me, the only possibility was to start between two wind gusts

The freezing temperatures and the wind gusts heightened the cold so the snow wasn’t hard as I preferred to ride on, but blue and icy. Consequently, I needed to change my way of riding, particularly at the beginning which was a bit too rapid. I prepared myself to ride on eggs, to be that careful so I could reach the boulder if I wanted to succeed.
Impossible to take a leak with the cold so I did it in my suit which was so tight I could hardly breathe. Claustrophobia tried to enter my mind and I needed to eliminate it because that was my weak point in this discipline.

I was at the edge of the slope, at the departure. Marc and my team members looked at me without a word. The silence was palpable and I needed to change that. Thus, I asked Marc to tell Philippe who was in the timing cabin to trust me and to give me a heads up. He gave it to me, but with another worry to eliminate because Philippe announced that if the record wasn’t made on the first run there wouldn’t be a second. This information became my focal point for winning. Mentally, I began my breathing process which allowed me to concentrate, only think about my movements, my delicate trajectory due to the lack of snow. Marc told me to get ready to get on my bike and to wait for the best moment in the weather without wind gusts.
All gazes were upon me, I felt it and here I was once more alone facing my fate. I thought of this blue, icy snow, I concentrated on my breathing and my trajectory. I stopped thinking about the wind gusts and looked at the horizon. I was very cold….

7:40 am Marc spoke on the walkie talkie, announcing, “Eric is ready!” Marc asked me to get on my bike, the team members who were in charge of the complicated task of holding my bike were all very concentrated. I mounted the bike, all was silent.

7:42 am Marc spoke on the walkie talkie, “Eric is ready, are you ready at time keeping?”
“Yes”
was heard.
Marc looked at me, I blinked my eyes to say, “OK, I’m ready to go.”
Marc said, “Ready! 3,2,1 go!”

 

Off I went. The first part of the run up to the boulder was complicated because I had to make a slight curve to avoid a patch of earth on my trajectory. There wasn’t much snow, but the second part was beautifully prepared with the help of GPS technology to groom the slopes which allowed me to have a totally aerodynamic position. I contracted all my muscles and I went past the cells then braking gently up to the cable cars. A ski slope supervisor arrived on a snow moto and we waited together for the verdict. Only 1 small km/h more, but what a relief, the record was beaten! All this work, 3 years of preparation for only 1 km/h. At times it’s better to stay calm even though a huge frustration is felt. No training at the top in 2015, just one run and it’s the good one, all of that is a great success. This frustration instantly gives rise to a vision in my mind in 2 years. Go down at night in 2016 with the full moon and in 2017 an ultimate world record attempt. I announced this to my team a few hours after this record, 223.30 km/h.