Meeting with Fabien, Evolution 2 instructor for 20 years and extreme athlete.

This year, it is with pride that Evolution 2 supports him financially and materially in his project.

Natureman Var Explorer - a 370 km adventure raid between swimming, cycling, mountain biking and trail running.

A true enthusiast and enthusiastic sportsman, Fabien retraces for us his latest adventures,

his professional / personal life balance, and his next challenges.

Enough to make us want to embark, too, on a somewhat crazy project..

Reading time: 10min

Hello Fabien, can you introduce yourself in 3 words?

My name is Fabien, I am 43 years old. I have been a ski instructor at Evolution 2 for 20 years, and a helicopter pilot. On the course side, I was first a PE teacher, then I passed my technical test in 99. I started working as a ski instructor in Tignes in 2000, and I became a helicopter pilot in 2005. Helicopter pilot is now my number one job, and ski instructor when I have time.

Evolution 2 has changed a lot since 1999, hasn't it?

Yeah, it moved well. If there's one thing that's changed, it's the outfits. I still remember my first Evolution 2 outfit, it was a black Helly Hansen with orange stripes. [wink] But yes, that has changed, and that's good. It's good to evolve. Besides, a slogan that would be great for Evolution 2 - and it was my father who told me this one day: "Evolution 2 is like a revolution without looking like it". Not bad, huh? You capture, “without the letter R, revolution, evolution”. Suggestion to keep if you are ever looking for a new slogan.

A little update on your latest sports projects?

Sport has always been my thing. Before, I was a judoka. Then when I arrived in Tignes, in addition to skiing, I took up squash. Endurance sports weren't my thing at all at the time, I preferred explosive sports.

The trigger for endurance was a meeting in Canada. I was playing squash with a guy over there, Bob. He had 60 brooms, but it was impossible to exhaust him in the field. When I asked him what he was doing, he said “I do IRONMAN”. He explained to me what it was because I didn't know... and that's it.

The following year, in 2012, I bought my first road bike. I started straight with a Half IRONMAN, and then I hurt my knee because I was trail running at the same time... I couldn't run anymore, so I stopped completely.

I resumed in 2018 with an IRONMAN. I have done 4 since, in 2018 and 2019, then in 2020 everything was postponed or canceled. So, I tried something else: the Race Across France (RAF) by bike. The RAF was 2600 km and 40,000 m of elevation in 8 days and 16 hours. Great.

This year, Evolution 2 accompanies you on an even different project. Can you tell us about it?

Yes, this year I am returning to triathlon. I signed up for this Natureman format where they only select 50 people. The concept is great, both adventure and long distance challenge. The Natureman Var is 12 stages in ultra format: we will do 3 swims / road bikes / mountain bikes / trails, all in less than 48 hours. In total, it's 370 km and 10,000 m of elevation gain.

The Natureman is also a state of mind. Those who are too much in the competition are not selected. You really have to go there in the spirit of adventure, challenge and sharing. The goal is to finish and surpass yourself, we're not just here to chase the clock.

For my part, I would like to finish before the night of the 2nd day - that's around 7:30 p.m. in September. I calculated, it gives me 36 hours to finish. Sportingly, I think I'll be able to complete the course in 27 hours, but you have to add supplies and sleeping time. So on this basis, 36 hours seems doable to me.

In any case, the organization is amazing. We will be followed by a TV channel, with a live set commented by Patrick Montel. We'll have small radios to interview us during the raid, and a GPS beacon to track us live. There is Nathalie Simon who also participates in the women's team event.

How do you balance training and professional/personal life?

I don't work too much [smile]. In truth, I had a helicopter crash which put me in perspective. Before, I worked a lot. In the winter, I hardly took any rest days, and in the summer I worked a lot too. After this crash, I calmed down on work. So I earn a lot less money, but I have a lot more time, I'm a lot happier and I do a lot more sport than before.

And then sometimes, I also get up at 6am to do the home trainer before going to work. Sometimes I go cross-country skiing or swimming between a YETI course in the morning and an adult ski course in the afternoon. It's been a long day, but I love it.

More seriously, when you give yourself the means, everything is possible. It is certain that after 8 hours of teaching, there are days when the evening is difficult. But with good training, there is no need to do so many hours. And then there's the advantage of the seasons: unless the guy goes on to another full season from May 1 to the end of November, in the summer we still have more time.

Do you know any other Evolution 2 pros who embark on sporting challenges like this?

No, the only one I know who takes up challenges like that is Fred Horny, from Val d'Isère. He really deserves to be talked about. Fred, he creates his own challenges. He goes mountain biking to places in the world that have never been done by bike. That's his delirium: going to open trails, singles, and going on a trip with his mountain bike.

In 2002-2003 in Val d'Isère, there was an instructor, Guillaume I believe, who wanted to become a guide. He had gone to do Everest, and he's the only one I know that was sponsored by Evolution 2. But it's great that it can resume. If we can inspire other instructors to set up projects with Evolution 2, that's great.

And then I'm sure elsewhere in Evolution 2 there are people doing cool stuff. But we don't know everyone, heads have changed, and there are plenty of young people coming up behind to do great things.

Any other upcoming projects on your side ?

A lot ! I love it ! There, I'm thinking of going for a bike & run with 2 friends around Lake Geneva: it's 180km in total, so each 60km on foot & 120km by bike.

There is also the ÖTILLÖ. It's a swim & run in Norway. There is a report from France 2 on it: "The hell of the ÖTILLÖ". We swim in super cold water and the walking distance is monstrous. As my specialty is rather cycling, it would be quite a challenge. And then why not set up an Evolution 2 team to participate in raids? There's a lot of relay stuff. Look: you swim, I ride and run, there are kayakers, trail specialists... I'm sure we can take people on board. And even Hervé [founder of the Evolution 2 brand, editor's note] is a good athlete too. That would be a good thing.

Do you talk about this kind of stuff to clients ?

No, not even. We mainly talk about skiing, and then about everything and nothing. It must be said that most often, I have YETI [children's collective courses, editor's note]... so it's not easy to speak IRONMAN. But it's true that we don't talk about that too much, even with adults. It happens to talk about cycling, there are a lot of English people who are passionate about cycling, but we still talk more about skiing.

A final word ?

I honestly hope that this kind of project will inspire some of Evolution 2. We are still in the outdoor sports business... I'm sure there are plenty of people who have personal challenges like that, and who do not dare, or who do not have the financial means to make them a reality.

It would be great if Evolution 2 continues to sponsor projects. It brings something both to the pro and to Evolution 2, it would be a shame to miss it. I hope this will be the start of a great adventure with lots of beautiful projects that make you dream. And then if others have ideas where they miss people, let me know. ;)

>> Meet on Saturday September 25 at 5 a.m. for Fabien's departure on the Natureman Var Explorer 2021.

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