Slalomeur Jean-Baptiste Grange, double world champion always impeccable on and off skis, ended his career at 36 and marked the end of an era for French alpine skiing.
"JB is class," likes to repeat in an interview his last trainer, the Italian Simone del Dio.
A good summary of the character Jean-Baptiste Grange, who marked the followers more or less close to alpine skiing in 17 years of career.
The public first of all will surely remember the two world championship titles.
In 2011 in Garmisch (Germany), Grange was rewarded for the first time after several years of familiarizing himself with the summits.
In 2015 he was only an outsider after several seasons marked by physical problems when he surprised Beaver Creek with a second title.
The skier from Valloire also won a world bronze medal in 2007 in Are (Sweden) but left Val d'Isère at home in 2009 frustrated, without a podium, while he was at the top and had won that year the small globe of the slalom, the last one won by a Frenchman.
On the other hand, he failed to win an Olympic medal in three attempts (three trips off the track in 2006, 2014 and 2018).
- "An incredible adventure" -
"It was an incredible adventure that started at a young age in my village of Valloire, put on the track by a family of skiers on whom I have been able to rely ever since, always with dedication and discretion. An adventure that could have been done. stop abruptly at the age of 11 following 2 herniated discs. Driven by this crazy passion for ski racing, I fought to make my childhood dreams come true and live them on skis until the age of 36 ", writes he on his Instagram account.
Praised by his peers for his professionalism and serenity, he overcame, armed with his shy smile, many injuries, including a serious last, to one knee in January 2020.
He had returned, once again, at the end of 2020, for the last two seasons therefore, far from the podiums but still at the level with several top 10 in the World Cup, but had not managed to finish the World Cup race in Cortina d ' Ampezzo (Italy) two weeks ago.
With eight slaloms won in the World Cup (plus a combined), he is the 3rd most victorious Frenchman in the discipline after Jean-Noël Augert (13) and Patrick Russel (9), just ahead of Clément Noël (7), to whom it has passed the baton in recent years.
He had taken with his friend Julien Lizeroux the role of wise old man of the France team.
With the latter's retirement announced in January at the age of 41, a golden page in French skiing is definitely turning.
Jean-Baptiste Grange will bid farewell to competition in the last two slaloms of the season in Kranjska Gora (Slovenia) next week and in Lenzerheide (Switzerland) on March 21.
© 2021 AFP