Being part of the New7Wonders of the World, The Great Wall of China probably has a special place on your bucket list. And with over 10 million people visiting the stone fortification every year, chances that you’ll see the Great Wall in person are pretty high. But the odds of you skiing on it are practically zero. That unless your name is Candide Thovex. This French professional skier looked at the Great Wall and decided it was the perfect spot to show his sports skills.
As part of his partnership with car manufacturer Audi, the Winter Olympic gold medalist embarked on a special journey to “Ski the World” in his attempt to show that #AllConditionsArePerfectConditions both for him and for the automaker, let it be either skiing or just driving around.
Thovex scoped the globe in search of spectacular snowless places where he could roam free while doing what he loves most: freestyle skiing. His will to conquer out-of-the-ordinary slopes made him reach beyond Europe’s borders, leave his ski marks in some of Asia’s idyllic places, and finally reach America’s picturesque landscapes.
The 35-year-old sportsman is the main protagonist of the “Quattro 2” film, a spot specially made for Audi that doubles as a visual invitation for you to join Thovex on his memorable adventure. He starts the crazy mission somewhere in the far northern reaches of The Old Continent and continues his trip all the way up to the other side of the world by skiing on everything but snow: sand, volcanic ash, grass, stone, and water.
Throughout the four-and-a-half-minute-long video, you can follow the extreme athlete as he slaloms between Mongolian statues, surprisingly neatly descends the steps of the Great Wall, fiercely faces the harsh conditions of the jungle, and finally reaches Jamaica’s shores while ski-surfing. Then he casually ascends for another round.
Although they can prove to be major obstacles in such situations, the local geographical conditions — even water surfaces which pose a bigger challenge — have been successfully defeated by Thovex and the production team.
Much of the project’s execution depended on weather conditions. And even though it wasn’t very friendly at the begging, the weather calmed down during the rest of the filming and offered the team ideal conditions to capture Thovex’s incomparable skiing abilities.
But there’s more than just defeating Mother Nature. Behind the mesmerizing visuals made to promote Audi’s Q7, stands almost a year of research on the sportsman side. During this time, Thovex was busy with identifying the best spots to shoot his next adventures. Asked what places are featured in the film, Thovex revealed not even a single clue, saying that this is a challenge for the viewers and invited them to discover where it all took place by themselves.
As for the equipment, Thovex used only two pairs (out of 15) of his specially designed freeride skis he took with him. “I only retired one ski during the entire shoot. It was in those giant statues at the beginning of the edit, and I hit a rock and ripped the edge out,” said the award-winning ski athlete and director.
You may think this is simply madness. Skiing on snowless surfaces can bring one nothing but broken bones. Clearly, this doesn’t apply to Thovex who seems to be adapting to this kind of unusual way of skiing very easily. It might have even become his hobby. If we go back three years, we’ll get to see the athlete doing his magic on a similar peculiar playground, courtesy of the same automaker.
Back in 2015, the champion shot his first advert for Audi, during which he skied on very odd slopes to promote the brand’s latest Quattro Q7 model. “Candide Thovex – quattro®” gained visibility really quickly and, just 3 days after it was launched, the video had gathered over 7,5 million views on the YouTube channel and Facebook account of the sportsman.
The “Quattro 2” video seems to be having the same fortunate fate. Just ten days after the official launch, the film had collected almost two million views on YouTube and 39 million on Facebook. And while the first video comes with a “making-of” clip, the current one has been shrouded in mystery for a while, mainly because of Thovex’s will to keep the viewers in suspense.
Just as Thovex’s masterful abilities allow him to perfectly ski on any surface so does the Quattro Q7 adapt and perform well just about anywhere, regardless of the terrain type or surface. Let us know who does it better, the car or the skier!