Extreme sports: “Super Frenchie”, the phoenix of base jumping on skis

His daily life? Descend steep slopes by throwing yourself into the void at an altitude of 4,000 m. Matthias Giraud, known as “Super Frenchie”, is a mountain addict whom he devours with feats of base jumping on skis, an extreme sport that almost makes him cost life.

It was near Megève that Matthias Giraud came to share his passion for the Mont-Blanc, so dear to him, at the “Back To Back Freeski Invitational”, a ski show for experts in thrills.

He offered himself an impressive freeride descent (steep slope with acrobatic figures) from the Aiguille Croche (2,487 m), before free-falling (2,022 m) from the cliff and flying on his parachute.

Giraud is a fan of base jumping on skis, an exercise that allows him to descend “a huge face with a bar (very steep slope) of 200 meters”.

Frenchman Matthias Giraud, nicknamed “Super Frenchie”, a fan of base jumping on skis, poses during a photo shoot on March 15, 2022 in Paris

JOEL SAGET – AFP/Archive

“You don’t survive a 200-meter beam and I really wanted to ski to the point of no return. A parachute was the perfect tool. Instead of stopping on foot, rappelling and ascending, we go there at full speed and then we’ll fly away,” AFP tells Giraud to explain what led him to this dangerous and exciting path.

At age 9, he discovered base jumping through a movie, “Pushing the limits”: “It was a call. I felt like I was part of the tribe, but I had to take my place in the tribe,” recalls the De 38-year-old Norman, born to a Dutch mother and Aveyron father, who discovered the mountains while on holiday near Chamonix.

– “My real life was about to begin” –

At the age of 24, he made his first basic ski jump, on Mount Hood (3,429 m, Oregon/United States), a world first that caused a stir in the United States and earned him the nickname “Super Frenchie”. French).

Frenchman Matthias Giraud, nicknamed “Super Frenchie”, a fan of base jumping on skis, poses during a photo shoot on March 15, 2022 in Paris

JOEL SAGET – AFP/Archive

“It was like in the cartoon + Beep Beep and the Coyote + when the coyote runs super long off a cliff before falling (…) I knew my real life was about to begin,” underlines the one who then , chained very dedicated and spectacular jumps from cliffs but also from bridges, radio antennas, buildings and even castles.

“I went really hard for a number of years, doing double backflips on bars as low as 80 meters, which opened 20 meters off the ground”.

And then, in 2013, there was the Pointe d’Areu (2,478 m, Aravis/Haute-Savoie chain). A step to realize his dream of “jumping Mont Blanc” a few weeks before the birth of his son.

Frenchman Matthias Giraud, nicknamed “Super Frenchie”, a fan of base jumping on skis, poses during a photo shoot on March 15, 2022 in Paris

JOEL SAGET – AFP/Archive

“The wind picked up, but I didn’t feel it (…) my parachute opened sideways, I threw myself four times into the cliff, it broke my femur. I managed to turn the parachute, I passed out under canopy because of pain, then I flew 1500 meters unconscious, I crashed in a forest, in the valley, it tore my parachute, I fell 10, 15 meters to the ground, it broke my femur,” he recalls.

– Three days coma –

After three days in a coma and two brain haemorrhages, it took him three months to walk again, but then resumed freefall four months after his accident when base jumping: “I had no choice, it was my calling”.

After five years of working to cope with his misfortune, he returns to the Pointe d’Areu.

Frenchman Matthias Giraud, nicknamed “Super Frenchie”, a fan of base jumping on skis, poses during a photo shoot on March 15, 2022 in Paris

JOEL SAGET – AFP/Archive

“It was tough. I wrote a letter to my son in case something happened. It was dark, a bit like preparing my own funeral. But this climb was + liberating +”, explains the one who was part of the year living in the United States.

“2018 was the most difficult year. 2019 was the return of the phoenix. I really felt where I had to be,” he sums up.

In June of that year, he became the first to make a basic ski jump from Mont Blanc, starting at the Red Rocks (4,359 m).

Frenchman Matthias Giraud, nicknamed “Super Frenchie”, a fan of base jumping on skis, poses during a photo shoot on March 15, 2022 in Paris

JOEL SAGET – AFP/Archive

“There was no margin for error, it was a jump that was only 57 meters vertical at 4,400 meters above sea level. If I hadn’t had this accident, the best day of my life skiing would never have happened,” concludes “Super Frenchie”, now looking for a new record… at 6,000 meters!

By Sabine COLPART / Paris (AFP) / © 2022 AFP