Ted Piccard battles health, heritageFrench skier Ted Piccard comes from a family of world-class alpine skiers, but the 31-year-old skiercross racer must battle persistent injuries to accomplish his dream of medaling at Winter X and the Winter Olympics.
"I want to win the [Winter] X Games because that's really a race for me," Piccard says. "But the Olympic Games are my destiny. My older brother, Franck, was an Olympic champion in Calgary and it's been itching me. I want to win the Olympics."
Piccard has the genetics for success. Growing up near Albertville, France, he's spent much of his life steeping in gold-medal ambitions. His father, Rene, a ski instructor, made sure the six Piccard children made good use of their alpine home in Savoie. As soon as the kids could stand, they were placed on skis.
Then they got competitive. Three siblings raced in multiple Olympic games, and Franck won three medals, including the Super G gold in 1988. His sister, Leila, medaled in Giant Slalom at the 1997 World Championships. Other brothers have competed on the World Cup circuit.
Ted started out in traditional alpine events and began racing skiercross five years ago. He's competed in two Winter X Skier X competitions but placed out of the top 10 in each (best finish: 12th in 2008). He won't know if he's made the French Olympic skiercross team until late January, but a recent third-place World Cup finish in Alpe D'huez, FRA will help his campaign. Determination and ambition aren't issues for Piccard, but health could be. He says his injuries have increased substantially since he began in skiercross. He sat out the 2006-07 season due to injuries, and they cut into his 2008-09 season. Last year's list of maladies included an injured (and re-injured) lateral knee ligament, a broken wrist, a broken elbow and severe bruising in his lower back.
"Since I've been skicrossing, I've been to the hospital many times," he says. "But that's what's fun about it. Even if I've been injured many times, I want to go back again." He calls his skiercross addiction "fast food."
He has a new trainer, a new routine and is trying to be smart about building strength without being reckless. "I take my time to warm up a bit more. I have to say no to some competitions when the snow is too hard. I have to be a bit patient," he says. "It doesn't hurt when I take care of it."
He's also aware that, given his age and injuries, he likely won't have this double-medal opportunity again. But that won't be the end of the Piccard skiing dynasty, he says. There are several up-and-coming Piccard nieces, nephews and cousins entering the competitive racing scene.