At only 19 years of age, Eric Perrot is already vice world junior champion in the pursuit and world junior champion in the relay at the World Championships in Obertilliach, Austria. That's just about all! And yet, it is in all humility and with a lot of maturity that he confided in us this Wednesday morning at the Nordic site of Pont Baudin. For Peisey-Vallandry, he comes back on his very promising course.
- Everyone has been talking about you since last week, but not many people know your story. Can you tell us more about yourself?
"I am originally from Tarentaise, precisely from Aime. I was born on June 29, 2001 in Bourg-Saint Maurice to a Norwegian mother and a father from Aime who met through biathlon. I did all my schooling in Aime, from nursery school to secondary school, in a ski club class of course. I remember that it was a big challenge to get into this section in 6th grade because of the selections! Just before I entered high school, we spent a year in Norway with my parents where I met a lot of friends from my ski club at the time who are now racing for the Norwegian team. When we came back, I enrolled at the Reinach public agricultural high school in Chambéry, which has a biathlon centre. I obtained my Scientific Baccalaureate in 2019 with the mention Assez Bien. I am now studying STAPS at the University of Grenoble and intend to spread my studies over several years in order to continue competing in the biathlon.
- Your parents were both biathletes, so you must have started skiing very early?
"Yes, I started skiing very early, with alpine and nordic skiing. I then decided to join the Peisey-Vallandry cross-country skiing club, as this activity suited me better. My two parents (Tone Marit Oftedal and Franck Perrot) were both world junior champions in biathlon, my mother in the relay for Norway and my father in the individual for France, so I certainly have some genes that led me to this choice.
- Since you have dual nationality, why did you choose to race for Peisey-Vallandry and not for a club in Norway for example?
"The choice I made was a choice of the heart. I've always lived here, I grew up here and I couldn't see myself running for a Norwegian club when I started school in France. And I must say that I am very attached to my valley and to the ski club of Peisey-Vallandry which was also my father's. Having said that, I love Norway and I could see myself living there again one day!
- How did you get to your level? Was it hard work, talent or luck?
"A lot of personal investment for sure, but I'd say it was more like a dream. That's what drives me since I was a child to surpass myself. Since I joined the Peisey-Vallandry ski club and started biathlon, this dream has never left me. It gives me the energy to move forward and allows me to take the steps little by little, always with a lot of work of course. And when you love what you do, when you are passionate and have a strong taste for competition, you can only nourish this dream more... Even if it is not easy every day!
- This very dream has recently taken you far. You won two medals in the space of a few days at the World Championships in Obertilliach. Did you expect that?
"I expected it, of course a little! When you dream you always expect a lot! Moreover, I arrived with a lot of races from the B circuit so I already had some reference points and I knew that I had the possibility to do well. After that, it's still the world championships so anything can happen! The ideal is not to arrive there with objectives of results and to practice your sport with passion. We'll see the ranking once the race is over.
- And the ranking was more than positive! 8th in the individual, 5th in the sprint, 2nd in the pursuit and finally 1st in the relay. How did you feel during this successful week?
"I arrived there with a lot of motivation. The place was just incredible! It really put me in a good frame of mind. And then to see the friends of the French team succeeding on the first days, that motivated me more than ever! We were really immersed in a beautiful dream atmosphere. I felt confident. I started the championships with a good 8th and 5th place. We didn't hear as much about it because it doesn't make you dream as much as a podium, but these were already big biathlon races where I was personally very satisfied with my results. And then I followed it up with a 2nd place in the pursuit. I'm very proud of this rise, because all season I had done good results, but irregular. Every day I did even better than the day before. It was difficult to achieve and that's why it was so satisfying. And to close this week in beauty, I finished with a first place in the relay with my colleagues Oscar Lombardot, Sebasten Mahon and Emilien Claude. It was magical because on paper we were favourites and we were afraid we wouldn't be up to it. In the end, we all did a great relay and the result was incredible!
- Great results that we hope you were able to celebrate with dignity!
"Well, not even that! Unfortunately, just after the last race where we finished first, we had to take the bus back to France that evening. And then to celebrate a victory during the week when you have other races the next day is not possible. It doesn't matter, we'll make up for it at the end of the season with our friends from the French team!
- There seems to be a good atmosphere between you. Is it easy to make friends when you are all competitive?
"It's special. You don't choose yourself. You join the team because you have the same level and you compete for the same places. Nevertheless, everyone is benevolent in this environment so it's easy to make friends. In the French team, benevolence and friendship prevail over competition. I consider my colleagues in the French team as members of my family and I really enjoy spending time with them. And then sharing victories together, that inevitably federates!
- Your career already seems to be set. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
"I'm not sure I'll have my STAPS degree (laughs), but I could see myself at the Olympic Games in Milan in 2026. The long-term project is to progress and get closer to the senior level. In five years, I will be at an age where I can be ready for the Olympics. But I am under no illusions, there is a long way to go! In biathlon, you can quickly be at the top, but also very quickly fall back down. In any case, I will continue to have ambitions!
- And you are right to believe in it! Any final words?
"I am really happy to see that the Peisey-Vallandry ski club continues to grow and to offer the possibility to other young people to evolve in this dream environment surrounded by good people. I am very proud to be from here and to represent Peisey-Vallandry in competition. Now I only wish one thing: that the dream continues!
Editor: Sahra Ronc
Photo credits: @OTPV, @k_voigt_fotografie and @bhoto.de
Photo credits: @OTPV, @k_voigt_fotografie and @bhoto.de