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France: 2024 Pre-Season notes

Gallic rooster

Because of retirements, France’s 2024 Equipe A roster will depend upon three somewhat unsettled mid-prime veterans, and a 22-year-old with just 18 WAWC starts. B-team talent, I suspect, will get a decent share of top-level starts. The core four have something to prove.

This must be a difficult time for the French team. Tessa Worley had EOS GS 7xpodiums, with two titles. Also did yeowoman’s SG for a dozen seasons, a few in T10 range. For the average WAWC fan like me, Tessa was French ski racing. Her retirement surprised me—I had her pegged as die-hard, but fading to GS 8th after 2022’s globe scrawled a message on her wall that it was time to turn her bright character toward the civilian life.

Most journalists and the Federation Francaise de Ski will consider 2024 a rebuilding season. For the racers, though, every season is about progression—to improve, to cut time, to win races. Even those recovering from injury—perhaps especially them—don’t want to hear about rebuilding. We are the best right now. We are this year’s team!

Godard et al. taught me that any sentient French character’s panache will transform an occasion to sublimity. One of my favorite youthful incidents is of a wild gilt/boar trotting past my sleeping bag at dawn in the Forest of Fountainebleau. She/he paused, huffed at me, and continued on. Sublime. (IGYHTBT)

Romane Miradoli

Ski racer’s ski racer. A nebulous title, perhaps, but one I give athletes whose deep immersion in the sport spans triumph and despair…and their dynamo keeps churning. With 144 WAWC starts, 131 EC starts, and FIS results a blur as I scroll through them (many victories), Romane Miradoli’s career is a sine que non for understanding what these people do. Et il n’y a coureuse qu’est plus chic.

She suffered an especially cruel ACL tear 1 March, crashing during DH training at Kvitfjell, Norway. Hitting stride in SG, Romane was primed to reclaim EOS T10 with 3xSG left to run—two of which were later in that meet. Zoot alors! She’d followed December 2020’s left knee ACL/OFS with 2022 EOS SG 9th, her best ever ranking. At Lenzerheide SG Miradoli smoked Shiffrin, Gut-Behrami, Bassino, and Mowinckel in order. Can’t name four better SG racers. Her Highness lagged 0.38 behind in 2nd; Lara staggered home 3d 0.88 off Romane’s pace. They should have stayed in the hut. Only Conny Heutter, humiliating Garmisch’s runner-up by 0.82, scored a 2022 SG top step by a greater margin.

IMO, Romane should specialize in SG but Speed skiers don’t/won’t do that. She knows she’s better than her record, and will prove it. (Probably everyone thinks that of themselves; she truly is.) 2024 may be a bear, coming off that ACL. See below. Miradoli’s got 3/4 peak years left if she wants, I reckon. There’s a lot on the table—now that her knee’s healing and won’t be disturbed again she’ll lay it down. 2025’s gonna be EOS SG T8/10; no surprise if she uncorks T5 at the Worlds. Along the way she’ll pick up two more wins and a few podiums. Super-G is hard-core. Romane a la coeur de lionne et l’esprit vitesse du vent. WAWC’s Simone de Beauvoir. IMO.

WAWC EOS Speed 2019-2023 (GS not included here. EOS 39th-- 47th. Will drop it, I’d think.)

2023 DH 27th – 7 starts – 10th; 3xT20; 29th; 2xDNF

SG 15th – 5 starts – 3d; 3xT10; 13th; 31st

2021 Injured OFS

2022 DH 20th – 9 starts – 8th; 7xT20; 29th

SG 9th – 9 starts – 1st; 3xT10; 3xT15; 27th; DNF

2021 Injured December 2020; OFS.

2020 DH 17th – 8 starts – 3xT10; 3xT20; 29th; 30th

SG 12th – 6 starts – 2xT10; 4xT20

2019 DH 14th – 8 starts – 2xT10; 6xT20

SG 12th - 6 starts – 2xT10; 11th; 2xT30; DNF

Olympics 2022 – DH 13th; SG 11th. 2018 – DH 18th; SG 19th. Fine work at Beijing.

National Championships – 2010-2022 – 11 meets. Total beast.

DH - 15 starts – 3x1st; 3x2nd; 2x3d; 4xT10; 2xT15; 21st.

SG – 14 starts – 5x1st; 2nd; 3x3d; 10th; 2xT15; 22nd.

4xDNFs – very impressive over four full Speed campaigns. The chronic T30 finish undercuts solid, consistent results. I think Romane can bump up SG a couple notches, but recovering from late-season ACL, I’m afraid it won’t be this season. Though I may under-estimate how quickly she may regain her strength, and make summer training fully about improvement rather than restoration. I reckon Romane will regain form late January, and snag a few T10s to ease in EOS SG T18/20. 2025 will be back to EOS SG T10 territory. I hope I’m grossly pessimistic.

If knee is sound, summer goes well and she hits the calendar running, she’s 2024 EOS SG T14. And Miradoli’s due for some podiums! Good knee + 2 podiums + SG big gun(s) falter = EOS T10/12th.

Laura Gauche

A mid-ranking Speed vet for whom I sense significant improvement in prime years. She’s put in the top-level starts, should be attuned to WAWC’s tension, expectations, etc. Injured December 2020, but healed/returned pretty quickly to finish out the calendar. I imagine that she and Romane are de facto co-captains this season. She knows 2024 is a big opportunity.

From the bits I understood during a couple of interviews on YT, Laura’s working to improve SG by integrating her DH prowess/speed sense to help flatten SG’s technical quirks. Or something like that. On video and on IG she strikes me as more serious and objective than many of her peers. She enjoys sun, sand, and surf, but inside I think she’s a true worker. Some of her IG gym reels are insanely muscular. And I bet the attentive La Tournette ibex guides Laura on piste swiftly and safely.

WAWC 2021-2023 - EOS Speed

2023 (36th Overall)

DH 18th9 starts – 3d; 2xT10; 4xT30; 31st; DNF

SG 22nd8 starts – 10th; 3xT10; 21st; 39th; 2xDNF

2022 (37th Overall)

DH 28th – 8 starts – 3xT20; 4xT30; 31st

SG 19th – 9 starts – 3xT10; 3xT20; 25th; 31st; DNF

2021 (64th Overall)

DH 37th – 6 starts – 3xT30; 2xT40; DNF

SG 28th – 5 starts - 2xT20; 2xT30; 39th

European Cup Dec 2012 – Feb 2019 Cumulative results

DH – 32 starts – 2xT10; 11xT20; 13xT30; 4xT40+; 1xDNF

SG – 24 starts – 2x2nd; 4xT10; 7xT20; 5xT30; 4xT40+; 2xDNF

2022 Olympics – DH 10th; SG 16th. Nice DH. Squashed some of the Big People.

World Championships 2021 & 2023

2023 DH – 12th SG – 14th AC – 7th (Acknowledge her overall skill)

2021 DH – 20th. SG – 26th. AC – 7th (Ditto)

National Championships – 2016-18; 2021-22 - 6 meets – Cumulative results

DH – 7 starts – 2nd; 3d; 5xT8

SG – 8 starts – 1st; 3d; 6xT7

GS – 5 starts – 3xT10; 2xT15

Looking at Gauche’s best recent WAWC DH finishes, we see she’s right there with the Big People. 26 February last season at Crans Montana, Laura nailed 3d from bib 26, nipping Mowinckel by 0.02 but leaving Gisin, Stuhec, Puchner 0.30+ behind struggling for T10. Finishing 7th at Cortina 20 January, four of the six racers ahead of her have enough collective crystal and medals to fill an ISO Container. Tied Weidle for 9th at Soldeu, the final DH when everyone laid it out. Beat Ragnhild, Corinne, Jasmine. December was a drag—4xT30. Maybe ill or otherwise off-kilter? Forget it.

So for 2024. A T15 December then kick in January like this year, scotch the DNF, snag 2xT4 or a repeat podium, T10 the rest, and cruise EOS DH 11th. SG I’ll say 16th.

Clara Direz

Clara’s a GS specialist who has traveled substantial vertical: 61 WAWC starts, 108 EC starts. Middling results, but she’s endured greater physical problems than most of her peers. Knee injured early in 2017 season made her uncompetitive; stopped racing in January 2017. Pulmonary embolism (!) late September 2020; formally pulled out of 2021 competition in January. I guess had been training to see how she felt, and unsurprisingly called it a season.

I don’t know how to evaluate an athlete who’s suffered a serious cardiovascular event. That she’s still competing shows great spirit and dedication. I really hope she has superb medical advice. From the looks of things, Direz is first-string GS this season. Naturally for an athlete entering prime years (turns 29 March 2024), Clara wants to go! She’s put so much into WAWC. Considering the dues she’s paid, full-on attack is her right. Wishing her the very best to crack fast times.

Has a professional pilot’s license. Great way to put the mountains into a humble perspective after they’ve claimed so much.


2023 41st – 10 starts – 2x22nd; 3xDNF; 5xDNQ

2022 40th – 8 starts – 20th; 21st; 3xDNF; 3xDNQ

2021 Injured OFS

2020 18th – 6 starts – 7th; 2xT15; 22nd; DNF; DNQ (Covid-shortened season)

Europa Cup EOS GS

2023 42nd – 2 starts – 6th; DNF

2022 39th- 2 starts – 4th; DNF

2019 11th- 5 starts – 2x2nd; 2x9th; DNF

2018 15th- 9 starts – 2x4th; 2xT20; 33d; 4xDNF/Q

2017 9th – 8 starts – 1st; 2xT10; 2xT20; 22nd; 2xDNF

Olympics 2022 GS 19th

World Championships GS

2023 – 16th

2019 – 8th

National Championships 2011 – 2022 - 9 meets

SL – 7 starts – 3d; 4th; 24th; 4xDNF

GS – 10 starts – 2x2nd; 2x3d; 3xT5; 16th; 23d; DNF.

SG – 4 starts – 2xT10; 22nd; DNF

DH – 3 starts – 18th; 23d; DNF

FIS – Surprisingly few FIS starts, I’d say. 2018 only “recent” season with 10+ starts. Including for career context/ability.

2023 4 starts – GS 2x1st; SL 1st; DNF. Encouraging!

2018 SL 4 starts – 8th; 11th; 2xDNF. GS 9 starts – 1st; 2x4th; 5th; 13th; 4xDNF

South American Cup2023 3 starts – SL 8th; DNF. GS DNF. 2018 2 starts – SL 3d; GS 4th.

Sundry FIS and other category starts help keep her in the game, though at a reduced level. Otherwise, having a rough time of it. I’d think lingering health issues badger her—blood-thinners to ward off another PE can make breathing more difficult, and bruising easier. No idea if this is relevant with Clara, but her WAWC skills have stalled out. I hope she can reclaim earlier form for EOS T30, but will be tough in super-competitive GS.

Marie Lamure

Equipe de France is banking on Marie Lamure, that’s for sure. Raised in Courcheval’s ski club, which I bet is as rarified as you think it is, Marie’s making a high-profile debut. She surely has the talent. What the heck, here’s the pitch: Confident, ebullient, insouciant—why not? Life is good for anyone on their dream’s doorstep. (?) And through her 30 EC starts, 53 FIS starts, and scores of club events, Lamure knows it can vanish in an instant. (She may know it personally. I see no results in any category Feb 2020 until Nov 2021; haven’t found injury info, but figure she was hurt.) So her confidence probably has a wary undercarriage. A good stance at the threshold; there’s plenty of competitors who feel the same way.

WAWC 2023

SL 38th – 10 starts – 2x20th; 6xDNQ; DNF; DSQ. Rocky start. Big difference from EC…

Europa Cup EOS SL

2023 5th – 7 starts – 3x1st; 8th; 2xT15; DNF

2022 7th – 10 starts – 5xT10; 3xT20; 28th; DNF

World Championships 2023 SL 16th. Not bad for first WC.

Junior WC 2022 SL 4th; SG 23d; AC 1st. AC significant—has Speed chops. Beat Magdalena Egger (2nd), a major young talent.

FIS SL results. Decent number of GS starts—a few T10, but mostly T30 or so.

2022 – 5 starts – 2x1st; 2nd; 2xT10

2021 OFS

2020 – 4 starts – 2x2nd; DNF; DSQ

2019 – 8 starts – 3x1st; 2nd; 2xT10; 2xDNF

2018 – 11 starts – 2x2nd; 5xT10; 3xT20; DNF

IMO SL T15 by 2026 then T10 and wherever her talent/health takes her. I’d say run another season like 2023—17 SL starts, so full WAWC and EC. If she’s gonna specialize (at least for now), run every top-level SL she can. Will need to fully grip WAWC’s high standard/settle into the echelon. But very promising so far. WAWC EOS SL T30 for 2024 is a makeable goal. Not too ambitious/demanding; a solid basic step. Cut down the DNQs and she’s in, easily.


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