• Caitlin Kennedy

Pioneering Speed-riding

By Caitlin Kennedy

Maxence Cavalade is not only one of France’s top speed-riders, he’s also a boss at skiing, snow-boarding, telemarking, diving, sky-diving and judo amongst many other things. We caught up with him on his down time.

How did you get into speed-riding?

The first time was 2003. I went to Les Arcs and Jerome Baud (a paragliding and ski instructor) said to me “Max, I have something that you have to try”. This was really at the beginning of speed-riding, because the sport began in 2001.

He already had the canopy ready and I tried it with him for half a day. In Les Arcs, there is a huge area which is perfect for beginners because it is very open, with nothing to crash into. And just skiing straight with the canopy overhead was the most amazing feeling. So when I came back to Val d’Isère, I had a friend who had an old parachute and I borrowed it to try speed-riding on Super L, Banane, places like that. I was a beginner and I probably did way too much too soon. But we didn’t know yet how to learn speed-riding because the sport was so new. If I’d known how dangerous it could be, I wouldn’t have learnt the way I did. There was a lot of trial and error early on- I crashed every time and although I never injured myself, I definitely could have done. That was a really enjoyable experience, testing it out by myself. At this point there were maybe only 10 or so speed-riders in France. After that I met another guy called François Bon, one of the pioneers of speed-riding, as well as a World Champion of acro-paragliding. I m