Etienne Daille: “The practice I have in kayaking is moving away from the Nordic”
You were born in Prague, but are originally from Ain. Can you introduce yourself?
I was born in Prague in 1989 to a French father and a Czech mother. They met on the international circuit when they were athletes. I spent most of my childhood in Ain, since in kindergarten I was already in Poncin. I stayed in Poncin until college. I take my license at the Ski Club of Lompnes located 30 minutes from my home. The first years (benjamin, minimal, cadet 1), my sports season was really divided into two parts (skiing in the winter and kayaking in the summer). At that time, I was as involved in both activities (bottom and kayak).
In skiing, I was present in almost every race I could do (local race, committee championship, a few races on the national circuit, without forgetting the UNSS).
When did you make your choice?
I think the situation changed in the summer of 2004. I did my first French championships in the junior slalom kayak and I finished only in 20th place, even though I had a good race! Two weeks later, with my eyes glued to the TV to watch the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, I witness the exceptional victory of two French in slalom (Estanguet in C1 and Benoît Pechier in K1). And in addition, one of the two was from Rhône-Alpes! I think that’s when my training was gradually becoming more and more kayaking oriented. I had started Nordic skiing, but I never had time to register for the first cycle… Today, I do a big cross-country ski cycle usually three weeks in December before leaving at the beginning of January relocated my training to a warm country for a month and a half (Australia, South Africa).
We also remember Sylvain Curinier, Jean-Yves Cheutin who accompanies you national training pole in Pau. Is the Jura Mountains a good canoe-kayak playground?
Yes, the Jura rivers are a good playground for kayaking, but especially for the practice of white water (high river) and a little less for slalom. On the other hand, what makes the Jura strong is the limitless possibility to practice all the physical activities of nature in the best possible conditions: mountain biking, skiing, kayaking, orienteering, climbing, canyoning, caving, running…
Why, then, do we have to go into exile in the Pyrenees if we want to evolve at the highest level?
Why Pau? It’s very simple: it’s simply because the selections in the French team have been held there every year for 4 years. So to increase your chances, it’s better to practice… This is Tony Estanguet’s town. In 2008, a new artificial whitewater stadium was built of international standard. In 2009, the FFCK offered me to join the France of excellence in Pau (former name: Elite pole); I don’t hesitate for a second…
The kayaker you are also evolves with ease on cross-country skis. You are also a champion of oriented skiing. What are the common threads between the two sports?
What do you have in common? I will say especially at the mental level … In slalom kayaking, practice on the competition stage is possible the previous days, but the route (marked by gates) is unveiled only the day before. Motor recognition of the route is not permitted, but only visual recognition of the riverbank. All this to return to the rapprochement with the ski orientation: in both cases it is a question of creating a trajectory project based only on field observations (and also the map in orienteering ski).
And that’s when the rapprochement between the two disciplines is most important. We don’t know if we chose the best solution (trajectory, path…), we won’t know until after the race finally. It is therefore necessary to be able to adapt at the last moment to the field of evolution, and also not to confuse speed and precipitation to stay on the right trajectory …
Do you think kayaking is a Nordic sport, as can cross-country skiing and orienteering?
Unfortunately, the practice I have in kayaking (slalom) is moving further and further away from this practical side of nature… World cups on natural rivers are increasingly rare. Discipline is increasingly turning to practice on artificial rivers.
You are selected for the London Olympics. What is the programme between now and then?
This week rest in the Ain! Although given the solicitations I have, it is not easy. But it’s unthinkable that I would finish the week without skiing at least once. I haven’t skied since the very beginning of January; I can’t take it anymore; the urge is huge… All that remains is to find snow.
Then, on Sunday, head to London: I do 3 internships in a row from Monday to Thursday the 3 weeks that arrive (return to France every Friday). Then the European Championship in mid-May in Germany. Again an internship, but longer in London. Then normally two World Cups in June (including one in Pau). Then almost the whole month of July in London.