Kevin Rolland, YOG ambassador set to take centre stage in Sochi

Half-pipe specialist Kevin Rolland embraced his role as ambassador for the first Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Innsbruck in 2012 with energy and passion, and now the Frenchman is set to play a starring role as his sport makes its full Olympic debut in Sochi.

When he was appointed as an ambassador for the first Winter YOG in Innsbruck in 2012, alongside Olympic champions Yuna Kim (figure skating), and Lindsey Vonn and Benjamin Raich (Alpine skiing), half-pipe star Kevin Rolland could not contain his delight: “It’s a great honour to be part of the first Youth Olympic Games and to share the responsibility of being one of the ambassadors with this fantastic group of athletes,” said the Frenchman, who was just 22 at the time “The values of the Olympic Games have always meant a lot to me, and with half-pipe skiing now included in the programme, I can fulfil my dream of becoming an Olympian in 2014 in Sochi. I hope that my story will help inspire young athletes!”

(c) IOC/L. Garnier (all)

Rolland has thrown himself body and soul into the role of promoting his sport, which he describes as “my office”, making a series of videos in which he explains that his sport “has no limits. We can always go further, and do bigger and better. It’s just about where our imagination takes us. It’s really great that we can compete at Sochi 2014. I’m a competitor. I love competing, and this is simply the biggest competition in the world”.

"Olympic Games magic"

Rolland hails from La Plagne, one of the largest ski areas in the Tarantaise Valley of France’s Savoy region. On skis from a very young age, he soon discovered his passion for flying higher and higher, pulling off ever more crazy “tricks”. In 2009, aged just 20, he became world champion in Inawashiro (JPN), and then won the Half-Pipe World Cup in the same year.

In 2010 and 2011, he achieved the unique feat of back-to-back triumphs in the X Games in Aspen (USA) and Tignes (FRA). He was the only competitor in the world to complete the “double cork 1260”, which put him on a stage of his own. 2012 saw him triumph in the Dew Tour, before injuring his left knee in training. However, he made an impressive comeback in 2013, winning bronze at the X Games Europe in Tignes bronze.

Every day since then, “Mitch”, as he is known, has been preparing for the biggest challenge of his career. “With the Games you arrive every four years to take part for 20 seconds. You have to be the best and you have no choice about when that happens,” he explains. “It’s then or never. I am interested in the challenge and impatient to see how I might react in this situation.”

Rolland knows that the competition conditions in Sochi will be different to any he has known up to now. As part of a team representing his country, he will attract the attention of the nation more than ever before: “Olympic Games magic”, he calls it. He remains committed to promoting his discipline, which will first appear in the global spotlight at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park on 18 February 2014. The competition will be fierce and the smallest details will be decisive. It will make for unmissable viewing.