France’s Richard Permin has become the symbol of a new generation of skiers – those who use the art of acrobatics to enhance all freestyle sports.
The son of a self-made man, Richard learned early on that hard work and determination are the way to success. Smitten by skiing from an early age, he joined a ski club so he could go to the slopes every weekend. But living in Lyon, that meant a two-hour drive to get to the mountains.
At age 15, he decided to become a ski instructor and convinced his parents to enroll him at the CESNI training centre in La Plagne. In his free time, he explored the resort's freestyle facilities, and spent all his free time experimenting with the pipe and big air.
“I was really independent. I started doing freestyle when I wasn't in class, in particular with guys like Arnaud Kugener and David Lacôte – two great friends who really supported me. That’s also the time when I met Julien Régnier.”
As a relative late-comer to the sport, Richard had the courage to develop his own acrobatic style. When he turned 18, Richard launched himself on an unsuspecting world determined to make a place for himself among the world’s elite.
“I did quite a few competitions but it was tough to break into the French scene.” In 2005, he got the chance to enter the world famous Freestyle.ch in Zurich. “My sponsor, Nike, managed to sign me up for the qualification rounds. “I got through all of them and wound up in the finals where I placed fourth. That event opened a lot of doors for me, including an invite to the Jon Olsson Invitational and the X-Games.”
The high point of his early career is his win at the 2007 King of Style in Stockholm, taking top spot with a beautifully executed Switch 720 Double Tail.
At 22, he moved toward powder skiing, leading to an invitation to the 2008 Big Mountain Pro, a competition that pits the world’s top freeriders against each other. He impressed, and by 2009 Richard was on the podium as he took third place at the Big Mountain Pro. That year also saw him on the podium at Red Bull Linecatcher. The contest, put together by Red Bull and Julien Régnier at La Plagne, launched a new type of competition: one dedicated to backcountry.
“It was a really interesting concept and I hope our sport is going to move more and more in that direction. Backcountry is my favourite discipline because it really mixes freestyle and freeride. It's a perfect form of fusion.
As for competition with desire equaled only by his talent, we can still expect some more amazing performances in all types of contests – backcountry, freeride and freestyle – and on film from Richard Permin.