The importance of Mental resilience with Snowboard cross Olympic Gold medalist Pierre Vaultier


Pierre Vaultier (not in the above picture) is a French Snowboarder who just won his 2nd Olympic Gold medal in snowboard cross in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang after the one he had got in Sotchi 4 years ago. This athlete has earned his successes with some undeniable natural talent, hard work (Kevin Strucl, manager of the France snowboardcross team: “He is such a hard worker in practice, if he doesn’t train for a week, he thinks he lost all his abilities. He trains more than others and he has had a little extra talent others don’t have since he was born) but also with a high mental resilience (ability to let go of setbacks to focus on what’s next).

In Sotchi 4 years ago, he had arrived with a missing cruciate ligament and wearing a splint after he had injured himself 2 months before the Olympics. An audacious (not to say crazy) bet. But he was able to let go of his accident and the associated fear of falling again, of the fact that he didn’t have a “normal” and strong knee, to reach the final and win the Gold.

This year in PyeongChang, Pierre Vaultier fell and even unfixed his snowboard in the semifinal but was able to finish 3rd and qualify for the final.

Pierre Vaultier: “The Australian Jarryd Hughes took a bad curve and put us all down. I unfixed my snowboard, it’s bad luck but it’s good luck that I could start again. This was totally unexpected and a mess. To fall and qualify is rare. To fall, unfix and qualify is even more uncommon.  I thought I was out”. 
Then to prepare the final: “My coach gently told me I was under a lucky star today and that there was no way I could choke in the last run” he explained. “That it was a lucky one but that I deserved this finale. That motivated me. I told myself: Now, you stand up and you blow everything”. 

After falling in semifinal, all sort of thoughts could have distracted him. He could (and he may) have had negative self-talks like “this is not a good day, I’m not going to make anything in the final”, he could have lost confidence in his skills, he could have thought he didn’t deserve to be in final, etc. …. But he was able to let go of them and refocus on what he does best: snowboarding. He then took the lead early on in the final and went to win the gold medal.

No matter what your sport is, practice being resilient each time you are having a setback, whether in practice, in games, in competition. It can be after not feeling well during a qualification race, or missing a penalty early on in a soccer game.

The past can’t predict the future so let go of what happened and focus on the task at hand.

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