PIERRE HARDY x FÉLIX BÉGAUD
Downhill longboard champion Félix Bégaud rides with the 103 sneakers, an iconic PIERRE HARDY model.
Film shot in August 2021 at the Col de la Bonette, in the French Alps, at an altitude of 2800 meters.
Félix, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Felix Bégaud, I'm from Paris and I'm 19 years old. When I was 10, my father gave me my first skateboard, but at that time I didn't like the feeling of it. Four years later, I tried it again and it just clicked. It was in Paris, at the Trocadero, on the way down to the Eiffel Tower. I met my best friend there, who introduced me to downhill longboarding.
Can you tell us about downhill longboarding?
It's a very technical sport, but there is no real structure, clubs or teachers for one to improve yet. It's by frequenting the longboarders' community for six years that I was able to progress and meet some great people. Little by little, I learned to master the board, I gained confidence and I rode more and more technical spots. It's a sport that offers unique sensations and it's also a lifestyle. In 2018, I felt ready and I attended my first world championship in Kozakov in the Czech Republic and reached the semi-finals. In 2019, at the same championship, among more than 500 international riders, I reached the final and finished on the podium in 3rd place. In the same year, I finished first in the Spanish championship at Col de Pals in Catalonia.
Can you tell us about how you met PIERRE HARDY?
This is my very first collaboration with a brand! I wanted to promote downhill longboarding and its unusual sensations. I really liked the PIERRE HARDY brand, and in 2019 I contacted its team via Instagram by sending them a film of one of my runs. The enthusiastic team got back to me very quickly saying that there were things we could do together. This was just before the Covid-19's arrival and the first lockdown in France. As soon as it was possible, we met and we clicked. We looked at the collection of trainers, and there was a perfect one to ride in: the 103 sneaker. We scheduled the film shoot during the 2021 summer holidays.
Can you describe how the descent went?
The PIERRE HARDY team gave me carte blanche for the film. I waited several days for the ideal conditions to make it. We were in the Alpes Maritimes (French Alps), on the road to La Bonette. It was 6am, the light was rising and I felt alone in the world in an exceptional high mountain landscape. There was no one around, the air was pure. For this film, I wanted to make a cool descent, showing both my technique and the trainers. I wanted the film to give a feeling of sliding, of physical prowess but also to show the beauty and calm of the place. For the film, I rode at about 75 km/hour, which allowed me to be relaxed. The slope has a gradient of 7-12% and the turns are long and homogeneous, therefore the descent is magical.
Why did you choose this place?
It's a unique place, almost lunar, with an incredible light. I had already ridden there last year. You have the impression of being alone in the world, besides there is no phone network, it's at 2800 meters, it's the highest road in Europe, the air is very pure. The road from the peak that leads towards Nice is very long, and I can ride up to 24 kilometers in a row. The asphalt is very good because the road is closed in winter. It's a space that I think was very much aligned with the brand DNA—very graphic, minimal, and very open.
How do you prepare for a descent?
You have to learn to manage risk, prepare yourself physically and mentally and the most important thing is to know your limits. I have very specific equipment with a full face helmet, extremely streamlined, that splits the air, leather gloves with pucks that allow me to skid and brake and of course I also have a back protector.
What qualities are required for this sport?
Concentration, calmness and a lot of physical preparation because you take a lot of Gs (accelerations). You also have to know how to read the road to choose the best trajectories.
How are the 103 sneakers for riding?
I’d already worn them in Paris to prepare for this run. They are ideal for this sport. They are comfortable, they support the ankle well, and they transmit the feedback of the board and the road perfectly. The soles gave me a very good grip on the board.