10 questions to Juliette Willmann, the skier who created this year's must-see film

10 questions to Juliette Willmann, the skier who created this year's must-see film

Juliette Willmann has created one of the ski films of the year. Featured in numerous specialized festivals, including the legendary 'Montagne en Scène', praised by critics for its stunning imagery, humble approach, and authentic narrative, 'Rise' is now accessible to all. More than just a film, it is an initiatory journey.

Indeed, Juliette Willmann - former high-level freerider, nurtured in competition from her earliest turns - takes us into a universe that magnetically attracts her: steep skiing, while writing the new chapter of her life, more fulfilling.

More than a film, it is an ode to freedom. The freedom to ski the mountain that catches our eye and desire. More than a film, 'Rise' is an invitation to philosophical reflection: what defines the beauty of a line? Is it its aesthetics and difficulty in the eyes of others, or the symbolism it holds for oneself? The answer lies in this 22-minute masterpiece produced and directed by the talented Maxime Moulin and Fred Rousseau.

But before being swept away by the magic of the Mont Blanc massif, we ask Juliette Willmann 10 questions, one of our historic athletes at Therm-ic. Her life choices, the success of the film, her tips for managing thermoregulation, her gear... Everything is covered. Nature and painting.

More than just a film, it is an ode to freedom. The freedom to ski the mountain that catches our eye and desire.

Juliette Willmann

PETITE FLAMME, ULTRA-ENDURANCE & STEEP SKIING

1- WHAT CAUSED THIS TRANSITION TO OPENING A NEW CHAPTER? WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO LEAVE THE FREERIDE WORLD TOUR?

This is a question I have answered many times during the screening of the film 'Rise' at the 'Montagne en Scène' festival. But I enjoy repeating it because it's a decision I stand by and believe was the right one. During my last season on the Freeride World Tour, I felt 'less into it', less excited about going 'riding', with the feeling of being constrained: we were mandated to ski certain faces. I don't regret it, it's the principle of competition, but I lacked motivation to seek out the best lines and the determination to push myself. It was as if I was gradually losing my spark.

Naturally, the results that followed were not up to par. At the end of my last season on the FWT, I decided to stop because it no longer excited me. With the support of my partners, I followed my deep desire: to go into the mountains, to test my limits, and see where my skiing skills could take me.

During my last season on the Freeride World Tour, I felt 'less into it', less excited about going 'riding'. It was as if I was gradually losing my spark.

2- IF WE UNDERSTAND CORRECTLY, IT'S FREEDOM YOU WENT IN SEARCH OF IN STEEP SKIING...

Initially, I didn't necessarily project myself into steep skiing but rather into skiing based on intuition and freedom: to ride where my eyes and desires take me, without the constraint of timing or imposed faces. It was rather the conditions that pushed us to adapt and head towards the high mountains to find good snow. The encounter with steep skiing and notably the Aiguille Verte therefore happened quite naturally, like a fortunate series of events.

A skiing based on intuition and freedom: to ride where my eyes and desires take me, without the constraint of timing or imposed faces.

3- WHAT ARE THE MAIN DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUR LIFE BEFORE AND YOUR LIFE TODAY? HOW DOES THE SKIING YOU PRACTICE TODAY DIFFER FROM FREERIDE SKIING?

There are many changes. The first concerns preparation. On the Freeride World Tour, you have to be ready at the right moment, peak your fitness at specific dates. This encourages starting to ride as early as possible, from autumn onwards, adhering to a lot of physical preparation in the gym... Not being subject to these deadlines makes me see winter differently now, in a more relaxed way. Now, I just try to stay fit all the time, with a lot of enjoyable sports in summer, like cycling and climbing.

Secondly, the major difference lies in the structuring of my life goals. Initially, I was afraid that the absence of competition framework would be a bit aimless: I feared wandering without a real purpose, feeling less effective. The opposite happened, I felt energized by a new energy, more serene. As if time were slowing down. Finally, and this is a stark difference between the two disciplines: before, I practiced an explosive sport, where you had to give everything for 2 to 3 minutes; now, I practice an ultra-endurance sport, where you have to engage physically and mentally for hours, both uphill and downhill.

Before, I practiced an explosive sport, where you had to give everything for 2 to 3 minutes; now, I practice an ultra-endurance sport, where you have to engage physically and mentally for hours, both uphill and downhill.

4- HAVE YOU ALREADY LEARNED LESSONS FROM THIS NEW PRACTICE OF STEEP SKIING: LESSONS LEARNED UP THERE, ON THE GROUND, THAT YOU CAN NOW TRANSLATE INTO YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE?

The main lesson I learned is managing effort. As I mentioned, switching from an explosive sport to an ultra-endurance discipline makes me physically more resistant and mentally sharper over long periods. It taught me to be calmer in daily life, more composed. In life as in the mountains, generally, when you are relaxed, things tend to go in the right direction: you more easily face challenges.

5- IN THE SKIING YOU NOW PRACTICE, THERE IS NO LONGER COMPETITION. BUT DOES THAT MEAN THERE IS NO LONGER PERFORMANCE? OTHERWISE, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE INGREDIENTS OF A 'PERFORMANCE' IN STEEP SKIING?

You cannot affiliate this sport with competition; however, you can clearly categorize it as performance. Competition is something you do to prove things to yourself but also to others. In the mountains, you do it solely for yourself. Out of personal happiness and satisfaction rather than aiming for results. Looking back, this philosophy suits me better since, ultimately, I realize I am not a competitive person by nature.

Today, I am more zen; I have no qualms about turning back or using ropes rather than attempting a too-engaging turn. Performance, now, I see it as the fruit of a beautiful adventure... To succeed in a beautiful day of ski mountaineering or steep skiing, it is crucial to manage thermoregulation well and stay warm despite the passing hours.

Competition is something you do to prove things to yourself but also to others. In the mountains, you do it solely for yourself. Out of personal happiness and satisfaction.

THERMOREGULATION, GEAR & PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTION

6- IN THE PREPARATION OF YOUR OUTINGS, WHAT ROLE DOES THERMOREGULATION MANAGEMENT PLAY? DO YOU ALWAYS USE OUR PRODUCTS, FROM HEATED SOCKS TO GLOVES AND HAND WARMERS? IF SO, HOW?

Managing my thermoregulation plays a crucial role. In the mountains, especially in high mountains, conditions are often extreme: wind, cold, humidity. Therefore, I use a lot of Therm-ic products to stay warm and avoid getting cold, which could put me in difficulty. Heated socks are particularly effective in keeping my feet warm, even during long days at altitude. Heated gloves are also very useful, especially during ascents where hands are exposed to the freezing wind.

7- THE FILM 'RISE' HAS BEEN VERY WELL RECEIVED BY THE PUBLIC AND CRITICS. WHAT DO YOU THINK TOUCHED THE AUDIENCE IN THIS FILM?

I think it's the authenticity of the film that touched the audience. 'Rise' shows a sincere and humble vision of the mountains. The film doesn't seek to impress with spectacular feats but rather to share a personal experience, a quest for freedom and discovery. Audiences were able to identify with this approach and feel the emotion and passion that drove us throughout the project.

'Rise' shows a sincere and humble vision of the mountains. The film doesn't seek to impress with spectacular feats but rather to share a personal experience.

8- AS A THERM-IC AMBASSADOR, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO WANT TO START STEEP SKIING?

I would tell them to prepare physically and mentally. Steep skiing requires great endurance and the ability to stay calm and focused in difficult situations. It is also important to know the mountains and weather conditions well. Using good equipment is essential to ensure safety and comfort. Above all, trust your instincts and do not hesitate to turn back if conditions are not favorable. The mountain will always be there; it is important to know how to respect your limits.

9- WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT ADVENTURES OR PROJECTS FOR THE FUTURE?

For now, I don't have a defined project. I prefer to let myself be guided by my desires and the opportunities that arise. I would like to continue exploring new mountains and pushing my limits, while sharing my experiences through films and writings. I am also very committed to environmental protection and would like to be more involved in awareness and conservation projects for our mountains.

10- A FINAL, MORE PERSONAL QUESTION: WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY TODAY?

What makes me happy is being able to live my passion for the mountains in a free and authentic way. To wake up every morning with the desire to explore and discover new horizons. To share these moments with people who share the same values and passion. And to know that I contribute, in my own way, to preserving the beauty of our mountains for future generations.