When Marie Marchand-Arvier won a silver world championship medal in front of a home crowd in Val d'Isere last year, she was so happy she jumped about a meter off of the podium during the medals ceremony. At 164 cm and weighing 65 kg, she is one of the smallest speed specialists on the World Cup, but size certainly doesn't slow her down ... or take the spring out of her step.
The 24-year-old grew up in Nancy, France, in the western part of the country, learning to ski at Les Contamines with her parents, who bestowed upon her their passion for the sport. With five siblings - including oldest brother Manuel, who is also a competitive skier - Marchand-Arvier was keeping up with the boys on the race course by the age of 14, left Nancy shortly thereafter and began racing in Europa Cups in 2002. She climbed quickly up the ranks on the European circuit, finishing second in a downhill in Pontedilegno, Italy, in 2003, and moving onto World Cup competition in 2006-07. It took no time at all for the young French woman to show that she was meant to compete among the world's best. She was 15th in the 2006 Olympic downhill in San Sicario and after her first few Cup races, Marchand-Arvier was finishing in the top 15. She found her way onto her first World Cup podium in the Cortina downhill in 2007. Later that season, she was third again in the Lenzerheide downhill race and closed out the season ninth in DH standings. Though she earned a handful of top-15 and top-10 results and was super-combined and super G national champion, the 2007-08 season presented a bit of a lull for Marchand-Arvier. But she was back en force in 2008-09.
Starting off last season in the top 20 in the Lake Louise downhill and super G races, the Rossignol skier surged into the top 10 in Zauchensee, narrowly missing the podium in downhill with a fourth-place finish, prepping her for her most remarkable result to date: a silver medal in the 2009 world championship super G at Val d'Isere.
"It was a very good surprise for me," she said after the silver medal race, when she spent the remainder of the championships smiling. "It's been amazing - all the photographs and attention. In France it's never like that."
She finished off last season with top 10s in Tarvisio, Bansko and Are and will surely be one to watch as the 2010 season unfolds.
Being French, Marchand-Arvier is, of course, a big fan of good food ... particularly desserts. She also loves Thai cuisine and has been known to do some of her own cooking, making a special effort to use the freshest ingredients and authentic products and spices.