The French remain optimistic
Like at the FIS World Ski Championships 2009, the French team is staying at Hotel Tsanteleina in the Avalin resort of Val d'Isère. The familiar surroundings serve as a haven of rest for athletes who have just returned from the long North American tour. And it helps prepare for the question all of the media want to ask: how is the team doing after having just lost three of their mates to injury? Julien Lizeroux, the two-time runner-up at the 2009 Worlds, responds: "If you wonder whether we are here to regain our confidence or achieve some results, I can tell you I am here to get results, otherwise there is no point."
Lizeroux has so far taken 5th at Levi before finishing 8th in the super combined at Beaver Creek (USA). He adds: "It's nice to be here. On arrival, I saw the course. But we are not here for the World Championships anymore; it is the Criterium (54ème Critérium de la première neige, as the World Cup in Val d'Isere is called; editor's note) so it is a different context now. I've heard that I return here as a favorite but I do not consider myself as one." Referring to his injured teammate Jean-Baptiste Grange who will miss the rest of the season, he said: "Jean-Baptiste is a friend before being a teammate. I have also suffered some injuries and there is never a right time for those. We also lost Thomas (Fanara), Pierrot (Dalcin) and Pierrick Bourget, so it's a lot. We are a close group so we must digest this and need some time to deal with it."
Gauthier de Tessières is one who finished last season on a hospital bed. The Alpe d'Huez native fell during training for the French National Championships. It was a sad end for the season during which, just over three months before, he had earned his first World Cup podium in the GS in the 2008 Criterium in Val d'Isère. Now de Tessières is back on the Avalin track. And although he's fit, he is not yet in top form. After finishing 13th in the GS at Beaver Creek he is hoping for good results in the days, weeks to come: "I am returning from injury but I had a good start to the season so I remain confident. Right now I am building some confidence for February."