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EP21: Ski Talk with Manon Costard (Part 2)

EP21: Ski Talk with Manon Costard (Part 2)

Interviewer: Matteo Luzzeri
Published on The Water Ski Podcast
Released on March 10, 2020
Transcribed by Langley Korepanov, Elizabeth Montavon, & Kevin Roundhill

Intro


Matteo Luzzeri 0:21
Welcome back to the water ski podcast everyone. This is Matteo and this is part two of the interview with Manon Costard, freshly crowned the new Moomba Masters champion as of yesterday, so congrats on Manon for that. Manon in the first part of the interview released last week talks a lot about some challenges. You know that happens in the sport like training coaching, preparing for a tournament in March for people that live in the Northern Hemisphere. In the second part among other things that we touch on such as winning the 2018 Masters and also some of the positive occurrences after her world title, Manon talks about another challenge. And this is a problem that faces the sport and faces any sport really it’s not just about water skiing. And Manon candidly shared something that happened to her and what she has learned from it. I truly think she did it in the most candid and respectful way, and I'm humbled that she decided to use this podcast to share - I really think a positive message. So, I'm glad that we finally have this out for this week. It wasn't an easy conversation, but nevertheless, a necessary one. And so I hope that anyone who decides to listen takes this for what it is - a positive message of something that needs to change in the world of sports. And waterskiing is no exception to that. So other than that, enjoy this episode! Manon and I touched on a lot of things. I really think we fed off each other very well. It was easy to talk to her. It's someone that I highly respect as a person. And obviously one of the most fierce, full and aggressive competitors out there. So this was a true pleasure and I'm happy to share it with the waterskiing community. Enjoy the second part. I really want to thank anyone who has been supporting the podcast, you know, messages, donations, the emails and private messages that I receive really make me - they're very encouraging. They make me continue this work, which is really a work of love. I was also able to get some more interviews on the road last week, which will be coming up in the ensuing weeks. But until then, enjoy this episode, the second part of the interview with Manon Costard.


Interview


Matteo Luzzeri
Alright, Manon, so we got back from a little break, and we left with Worlds. And I kind of want to ask you the same question I asked both Adam and Cory. What was the first, the day after, the first two weeks, first six months - like how was that?
Manon Costard 3:36
It was, it was incredible! The first day, or the day right after it I just felt complete, you know? I wasn't even hungry anymore. And I was joking saying, well I filled up the hole in me. I'm completely satisfied and so happy and I was just - that same night, when I won, and this is maybe a bit lame, but it's the Saturday night of Worlds, some people go out and they're, very excited to just spend some time with their friends and party. And I went and had some drinks and at the end I was like, actually as much as I would love to go and be with my friends and celebrate and all of this, I actually don't want to get drunk and kind of forget a little bit of how I'm feeling now. I need no alcohol or no celebration or no music or nothing. I think it's a feeling I’m never going to get again. Yeah, I'm sure I'll never get that exact same feeling. And I felt such on a little cloud and so happy and so complete and I was like, I just want to enjoy this for what it is and not have anything else coming to add some other feelings or whatever. It was just enough and it was amazing. So I was like, I think I'm just gonna enjoy this for tonight, thinking that we would celebrate everything on Sunday night.
And then the week after I go home and I start seeing all the people with whom I train so hard and also my mom and my sister, and I start having people around me that are so genuinely happy for me.
Matteo Luzzeri
Yeah
Manon Costard
It helps me even more stay on that cloud and just be like, Oh, this is, this is so cool. And I can't believe this happened and little by little you actually realize a little bit more of what happened.
Matteo Luzzeri
Right, Right.
Manon Costard
So yeah, the first two weeks were on a cloud - it’s so cool. I celebrated after, not right that same day, but after I had some good nights out. And I had some friends that were getting married and we had a good time there too. And it just like from then on it just was a lot of cool moments.
And my sister, organizing little things for me just, just really cool. Really taking the time to enjoy it for two weeks. And then I had some tournaments again, so I had to get back in it. And I actually had Nationals after, Europeans and Worlds. I was like, well, I have to... How do I get motivated to do this now?
Matteo Luzzeri
Right.
Manon Costard
So, it was a bit hard to get motivated to do the rest of the season. I had Nationals and then I had the Malibu Open and I just wanted to enjoy! You're not 100% anymore.
Matteo Luzzeri
Right, right.
Manon Costard
So I was just very happy - on the cloud. And super happy to share it with the people that cared so much and it was incredible. I was back in Lacanau for like a few weeks - it was so cool.
Matteo Luzzeri 7:02
Give us a moment - like something that happened back home or some cool story that, maybe not even skiing related, something that…
Manon Costard 7:11
Oh there is something really cool. I organized a little dinner with some friends over there - back home. So we had a really good time. It was fun. I was very happy anyways and so we shared, it was cool. And then we got some friends that ski on a big lake that we ski at. And, a kid, he is probably 14 or 15, super nice, super sweet. We spend a lot of time with him and his sister in the summer. And he wrote me a song.
Matteo Luzzeri
Woah!
Manon Costard
And he sang it and it was so cool. It was a song about me winning Worlds!
Matteo Luzzeri
What? That’s awesome!
Manon Costard
It was so sweet and he sang it in front of everyone and everyone was laughing and it was… it was just a great moment. And it's something that’s gonna last. And I have the video of this song and all of us listening to him and I thought it was so sweet of him. It was so cool. So yeah, that was a really cool thing. A really cool thing that he did. And, a proper song. It lasted for three minutes. All of the lyrics, three parts and it was so cool.
Matteo Luzzeri 8:27
Like recording material.
Manon Costard 8:29
Yeah, no one had done that for me before. So that was really cool. Really, really cool moment.
Matteo Luzzeri 8:35
Nice. Nice. I can imagine like that those first two weeks, maybe even a month, if you didn’t have the Malibu Open and Nationals, you could have kept going, right?
Manon Costard 8:45
Yeah, the feeling doesn’t go down - as long as you don't need to focus again and be like, okay, well, it doesn't matter. Now you need to focus on this thing. And so, you have to forget a bit about all of that.
Matteo Luzzeri
Right.
Manon Costard
So you go down. But yeah, if it was the last tournament of the year, I think I would have stayed up for a year or more (laughs).
Matteo Luzzeri 9:02
Yeah, so then, Nationals? How did it go?
Manon Costard 9:05
It went well. Yeah, it was fun. I won! Didn't ski amazing. But it was good. And then we had actually some night skiing at the end. They organized this little pro tournament with a cash prize. The French Open. No one else but French people came.
Matteo Luzzeri
Yeah.
Manon Costard
It was really cool to ski by night. I hadn't done that in forever. And so that was fun. That was really fun. It was hard to get back into the motivation but in the end it was really cool. It was a good moment and yeah, it was really fun.
Matteo Luzzeri 9:46
Nice, nice, and then Malibu?
Manon Costard 9:51
Malibu. You know, I just got back to the US. I skied really well. I ran it on the first round. (laughs) “Run it.” I ran 10 on the first round. And Whitney and Regina did too, I think? Well actually, I did five and a half and I didn't hold the slack, so I didn't go at 10.25. And then I didn’t... Sam and Jamie skied amazing.
Matteo Luzzeri
Yeah.
Manon Costard
Which was really cool. That actually made me very happy because I think that's something that is gonna make women's skiing even more exciting and bring it to even more tournaments, and pro tournaments. And they both were so consistent over that weekend. And it was… it was really cool. It was just really cool. I didn't ski well enough to make it to the finals. They skied amazing. I was disappointed, of course. You always are if you don't ski as well. But at the same time I was really excited to see that there is some really, really good competition in women’s skiing. And I think it's really good news because I want for us to have more tournaments and I want for people to get excited when they watch us ski. I watch the men's slalom right now, it's so incredible. If you do like a quarter of a buoy less you can lose three spots or four, four or five spots. It's so close and so very, very interesting. A lot of crowds are like, Yeah, we want them to come and do the show at our place. It's really cool, and it's awesome to watch. And for me, it's awesome to watch. So, if women's skiing can be more like that. Well, that's great. That's great. So, I’m very excited for us.
Matteo Luzzeri 11:47
Yeah, I think that it speaks a lot. I mean, we've known each other for ages. And it speaks a lot about how you care about the sport too. And I mean, you've shown it over the years. You're our athlete rep in Europe, you've been heavily involved just beyond your own buoys, you know? And so, let's talk a little bit about that. Like, where do you see, obviously, Sam, Jamie, Ali, these new upcoming skiers are like really pushing it, is healthy for the sport. Right? Like it helps.
Manon Costard 12:22
Yeah, it helps a ton. It's, it's incredible. It's so cool to see the level go up like this. They're all cool girls. I really like them. I get to spend more time with some of them than others. But cool girls that ski really well. And are gonna bring - are going to make our tournaments so much more interesting. So, to me, it's awesome. It's great and younger girls (are) coming up and it's healthy. You know, it's the way it should be and it's very exciting. I'm very excited for it because it's been hard to see that men’s slalom pro tournaments go up so high. And for girls to either try and be included - at first. Some tournaments were, Yeah, we want to have both, we're gonna do both. And you're the best for us because you've had us since the start and you're not letting us down and it's so cool because I think it motivates also a lot of European girls to be like, Okay, I'm gonna keep skiing because there is these cool tournaments that I'd like to do good in and and practice with and it's such a big source of motivation. But yeah, there are some other tournaments where they try and not that many girls show up.
Matteo Luzzeri
Yeah.
Manon Costard
And they're like, Well, they are not gonna show up, I'm not gonna spend money on them, I'm gonna put more money to the people that actually show up. So it's a fair point that we're proving right now. And with the Malibu Open I thought that was the ultimate proof that we do have an interesting competition going between us and if they let us show that and if all the girls decide to go to those tournaments and show what they can do, then I think very quickly our pro tour could follow the one of men’s slaloming. I'm not saying that we're gonna have as deep of a field, b ecause you guys have a ton of people and I think it's just the way it is.
Matteo Luzzeri 14:41
But I think the two go together, right? The more tournaments that are, the more girls are going to have motivation to push it, the more girls are going to get better. I mean, it's both. It continues to circle, right? I don't think that even the last five or six years - we went from five or six pro tournaments to fourteen - you will see people like, I don't know, Robert or Jacob, or this younger generation really pushing super hard because now they have something to look forward to. Right? And I think that the more women’s events come up, more girls would have things to look forward to, and that sport develops like that.
Manon Costard 15:19
Of course, because then you're like, Well can I justify not spending so much time on skiing and, whether it's with school, or that you have to do some sacrifices, right? So, you're gonna have to spend a lot of money traveling the world and going to do all of these things. Can I justify it if there is three tournaments a year? Not really. If there is a lot then, Okay, yeah, I'm gonna go 100%. It’s cool and we're gonna work towards that and that's gonna be what I'm gonna be doing for a few years or more. So yeah, it goes together. And then the girls that are already here need to go to tournaments and the tournaments need to do exactly what you did - kind of not give up after the first year being like, Well, they didn't show up, so it's not worth it. It needs to go from both sides. There is no perfect solution. It's hard, because money doesn't grow on trees and you have to, as an organizer, you have to do technical decisions where you have to be financially viable. But to me, what happened at Malibu Open was a big push and gave a lot of hope, I think, to me and probably to a lot of other people about women pro skiing. I think it's a good step forward. It's exciting and it's gonna push everyone when you have such a tight field with girls pushing and being so close to running 10. It's motivating. It's fun, it's cool to watch but it's also cool to ski against. You get more satisfaction if you do well, if you place well if there is a big competition.
Matteo Luzzeri 17:12
And I think even if you give skiers an opportunity to compete, they're going to compete. I think our tournament this past summer showed it because unfortunately you couldn't compete in because of your back. There were none of the names that we talked about that made it to the finals of the Malibu Open but all of a sudden, you had like eight women skiers all at the same level that had two or three at 39 that — I don't know if you watched probably were upset you couldn't ski — but there were crashes, they were pushing for the next ball. As an organizer, I found it amazing. Because the crowd was like, Okay, the scores might be three buoys less than what we expected but there's a ton of people and they're fighting for that score. And they fought, and it was exciting. Exactly. So to me as an organizer I'm like, Oh, hell yeah, I'm gonna do it again. Right? I saw athletes that pushed it and fought it. You know? You have someone like Sam winning her first pro event and actually I didn't even know - that qualified her for Masters. I didn't know that our tournament qualified for Masters if you won. So I think it's really a call that I've already done before but to other organizers who are on the fence, really put in women’s slalom in. You know, it really adds a ton to the event.
Manon Costard 18:35
Yeah, it does. It's very good to hear it from you know, your opinion as an organizer and to hear that you're saying the people that were watching it, loved it, and we're excited about it. Then it's awesome. That's what we need. We need people to actually be interested in what we do and for it to be to be exciting and close.
Matteo Luzzeri 18:58
Yeah, and it takes as you said effort on both parts because you remember the first two or three years, the field wasn't that big and I remember emailing, I think I took the emails of the top 30 women in the world I said, Listen ladies, I'm gonna keep doing this but you know, come on. And sure enough, yeah, the support came through strong. So if you stick it in and you keep putting money up, skiers are gonna show up and he's gonna add it to the event. Yeah, that's for sure.
Manon Costard 19:28
Yeah, for sure. Well, that's what I tried. I had the opportunity for a few years to be able to go to all the tournaments and I made a point to go and support all of them and last year was a bit different. I still showed up, but I couldn't ski and you know, my back was bad for your tournament, and then California, I didn't go because we had our Nationals and we had to go to our Nationals. Yeah, so as much as I can, I'm gonna go and show up to every tournament just because I want to tell them, We're here, we have a good field, we're motivated and we're very happy that you're putting the effort and putting some money for us. Yeah, it's, it's super... we have to be thankful for it. So, yeah, so I think it's the way to go. Girls go to tournaments and then the organizers just let us in. It's a cool show and I think it goes together as you say. It's nice to have and also you bring another dimension to skiing. Okay, you look at the guys and incredible competition - super powerful crazy crashes, crazy performances and things like that. So cool to watch. You watch girls, if you're let's say an amateur or a woman or the wife of a skier and you see girls doing it, first of all, okay, that shows you that you can do it. But also technique wise, we're less strong, right? So we have to be a bit more careful about our technique. And there's other things that you can take from watching a girl ski. You know, it's at 55k. You’re at 58k and so, there are some really interesting things that can be taken from the people watching a round. It's not just less interesting than men. We have other things to bring, you know, to the tournament.
Matteo Luzzeri 21:30
Yeah, no, and the reason why you saw me scratching my head is that I was thinking, Well, I don't know, a lot of these pro women slalomers are stronger than me. So you always said they were less strong. I don't know about that. But no, for sure, that's a completely different dimension. And I like what you said because, you're the wife of some skier or you're a skier yourself and you watch girls pushing into really short line and doing great feats on the water, it motivates you to even go and try harder and continue to ski. And I think it also motivates a lot of young girls, right? It motivates a lot of young skiers, which I would say even at European nationals, for whatever reason, the numbers are never super equal. There's always a bit more boys and girls. So if they get opportunities to see high performances from women often, then of course, the inspiration would come with. And I'm hopeful. I said in a lot of occasions, I just see, and I want to take your take on that, I just see the sport being in a little bit of a resurgence in the last two or three years. And I see from a lot of different dimensions, right? We have more pro tournaments right now primarily guys, but there's more people willing to put money up. You talk to ski schools - ski schools are pulling more rides both in terms of club members but also the occasional person then comes and takes a few sets. I'd be interested...I think I saw something, both from the Italian Federation and the US Federation that the numbers of members are going up. So a lot of places where I see, Okay, there's a bit of like an increase, you know? Talk about that, like, have you noticed that too?
Manon Costard 23:23
I've noticed it. What I've noticed is that people tend to come back from wakeboard back to skiing a little. I see that a little. Just because skiing ends up, you know...it's fun too! You get some speed, you get some things that you don't get from wakeboarding.
Matteo Luzzeri 23:47
Like buoys. If there are buoys, you’re hooked.
Manon Costard 23:52
Yeah, and I've also noticed, and it's really cool, and it's also because I'm, I am lucky enough to be able to ski on a big public lake in France, that people who have access to it, love it. If you discover it again most people just absolutely love it. They think it's fun and I think slowly it's getting back to that. I don't own a club so I can't tell you the numbers are going up especially. But I can see at least that as soon as someone is put back in touch with the water and with water skiing they have a good time and they like it and they want to do it and it's a family sport. I think it's so cool that people can have their boat or go to a ski school and spend some time with everyone in their family because it's something that you can do. I started when I was three years old. You can have kids doing it. You can have adults, you can do it until pretty late in your years too. So it’s something that can help you spend a lot of time together. So I think it's important too. And that's why the US does really well with collegiate skiing. Getting the young kids to actually be a bit more involved in it and having a good time and making skiing accessible to them. So they do an amazing job with collegiate skiing. I think now it's really up to a lot of the coaches to motivate those kids, you know? For some reason, they’ve been thrown into water skiing, they have access to it or they’ve come to a coach. Well, you know, help them have fun. There are so many, and even personally, I had experiences with coaches that are amazing for me, a great fit, and then some coaches that made me not really like skiing. It was too serious or it was just not a good fit. So I think it's important for the coach to see the kid and see what they actually need to make them have a good time and want to stay in the sport. So, if you have a kid that is a bit talented, but they're not really motivated and stuff, okay, yeah, push them. Have them be a bit more serious. If you have a kid that is super serious well, maybe try and lighten things up and let them have fun. You know, it's the most important thing. And that's how you're gonna get people to stay in the sport. You have to enjoy it, right? Like it's not about just performance. And our sport is based on performance. You can easily count your points, know what distance you go and count the buoys. But, you cannot focus only on that, because there's another dimension to it. It's just, the more you enjoy it and the more you feel good doing it, the better you're going to be, the more efficient you’re going to be training and the better you're going to end up.
Matteo Luzzeri 27:14
So the more you're going to stay in the sport, right? Because it's tied not only to scores and buoys, but also to experiences. I mean, you said it. It was an opportunity to be with your family, right? And you know, in a beautiful scenery and spend time with the people you love. So, if you get to associate your sport, it doesn't have to be just skiing. But let's say skiing with something beyond the buoy count or beyond the points or beyond the meters, then it becomes a passion that, let's face it, sometimes training is hard, you know? Like, things are not going your way. It's hard. It's demanding on the parents, on the skier. So if there's that passion, that is beyond how many buoys you ran then you're gonna be likely to push to train more but also to stay in the sport because I think you highlighted it. It’s super important in the sport. You can do the sport your whole life, right? It's like snow skiing in a sense you can start really young you can be 80 and still shred. You know? Like that's one of the coolest things in our sport that, let's face it, not a lot of sports have, right?
Manon Costard 28:23
Yeah for sure. And I have seen a lot of friends over the years that were very talented and very good and they get to a point where they're not having fun anymore, it's too serious, or they have a bad experience or something. And, you know, that's how you move away. And then I have a lot of other friends that went and had amazing experiences and are going to stay in the sport for forever just because they had so much fun doing it and they made friends and they have, you know, it becomes a huge part of their life. So I think it needs to be pushed that you get people to stay in the sport by having... I really think the coaches have a big influence on them. You have to show those kids that it's gonna be fun and that no matter what you know you're here because you're going to have a community around you, you're going to have people that are here and want the best for you. Yeah, just make them experience the very positive things that this sport can bring.
Matteo Luzzeri 29:39
Yeah, and I think the early experiences, right like because as you said, like, when you're young, if you're fortunate, more often than not you have a coach, you have parents that are sort of guiding you - I think the experiences when you're young skiing are super crucial. Right? They are crucial not only to performance, but also into whether you're going to stay in the sport or not, right? Any experiences you want to share, like something that, you know, like going back kind of like kind of circling back to your youth and your skiing?
Manon Costard 30:13
Yeah. Well, I had a lot of different experiences with coaches. And I was saying it before I had some that made me like skiing a lot and like skiing again. Because at some point, I didn't like it so much anymore. It was more of a job. It was like going to school, and I'm not saying that I didn't like going to school. But, it was more of something that I had to do. I didn't really have a choice and I didn't know that it was something fun anymore. And I lost track of that. And I think that was down to me and down to some experiences that I was... You hear about it in a lot of sports. Sometimes you trust someone… When you're a kid, okay, you're a parent, you give your kid to a coach and you trust them to help them get better. And they take your kids to tournaments and stuff like that. And I think part of why I started not having fun skiing at some point was I was put in a situation by someone that was meant to take care of me and to take me to tournaments and take care of a whole team of us, that put me in a situation that led to someone being able to take advantage of me in a really bad way when I was way too young. And so, when you're 13 and you get through.. It’s the time of your life where you're used to saying yes to a lot of people, right? You're used to, you have to tell - to do what you know, your coaches tell you to do. You have to do what your parents tell you to do, you have to do what your teachers tell you to do, or anyone that is older than you has the overhand. You have to listen to people. But at the same time you feel like, Okay, I'm starting to be able to make some decision for myself. I'm starting to be independent, and stuff like that. So you get put in a position, and you see it in a lot of sports, where kids are being taken advantage of, and no one knows about it, because they can't say it because they don't know. Either they don't know exactly what happened, they don't understand it because they were manipulated in such a way that it could have been their fault. You know, that they can think, Okay, well, maybe that was my fault, and I did that wrong and, and so instead of knowing what happens to you, you feel guilty and ashamed and you deny everything. You're like, No, no, no, you know, nothing happened it, don't talk about it, don't say it to anyone and, and so you end up having, just like what you had with the Me too movement in the US gymnastics, or in France, right now it's a huge thing where girls and boys have been, I'll say, taken advantage of. And no one heard about it for years and years and years and years and years. And you sit there and most people are like, Well, why didn't they say anything? But when you're that person you don't either... There's a lot of times where you don't really understand what happened to you. And so you're not able to go and tell someone. And there is always things that you could have done different, that you feel you're young enough so you feel like, Well, it's my fault, because I did that and that and that. I could have prevented it and so it's my fault. I'm very ashamed of what happened. So, I'm just gonna try and avoid the subject and then try and leave it in a corner of your mind.
Matteo Luzzeri 34:35
Suppress it.
Manon Costard 34:36
Yeah. And I think it's a big issue. Not talking just about skiing, I'm talking about anywhere in your life. I think it's important for people to realize that when you think that something maybe had happened to someone, instead of... To me - a lot of people heard about my story and they never came to me, to explain to me what happened to me, which is something that I regret. I think it would have helped me a lot. Or, go to my mom or, someone that can talk to me and tell them, Look, this happened. She's not going to talk to you about it because it's normal, it's just the way it goes. But it needs to be dealt with. And instead people didn't really say anything. It was said a lot behind my back and things like that. So I ended up being really alone in the process of dealing with that with that matter, and not dealing with it until… and not really realizing that it was bad up until 15 years after the fact. You feel the guilt and the shame but you don't understand it, and you don't take the time to understand it. So understand that someone's not gonna come to you and be like, Hey, you know, this happened to me. Because they don't have… it just doesn't, sadly, it just doesn't work that way. But if you know of something or if you heard of something or if you have doubt, I think it's important to go and talk. And if you're close to the person who it happened to. You're not just going to show up and be a stranger and… but I think it's important to when it’s just happened, and they're still kids and just going to have a discussion with them. You don't have to say, Look, you have to say something and that person needs to be punished, or whatever, for doing what they did to you. It's not necessarily that. It's, Hey, something very unfair happened to you. You're gonna feel like it's your fault, and you're gonna feel guilty and ashamed of it. I'm here to tell you that it's okay. It's normal. You don't have to say anything to anyone if you don't want to. But please make sure that you actually say it to at least one person that you know you can trust 100%. Just so that they can be a shoulder and be... make more sense of what happened. Because when it happened to you, it's too close and you don't get it. You don't just think, Oh, you know… You hear, and I hear, the other stories and I'm like, Well, that was way worse for them, you know? I'm 28 and I still think that all the time. And I need the people around me that I've talked about it with to tell me, Look, it's not the case. It's not the case. And so I think it's important to realize that we need to talk about it. And it goes with wanting to keep the kids in the sport. They need to feel good in the sport and they can't be taken advantage of. And by no one saying anything and just assuming that if no one's talking, if the girls are not talking that means that it's fine and there was nothing. No, it's important. It's very important for any sport in any environment for people to realize. It’s much more complex than that, you know? You know more than me, I'm sure because with psychology...
Matteo Luzzeri 38:50
Yeah, I think you highlight a very important point. These situations are very difficult. The lag of time that occurs between when an episode like what you might have experienced occurs, and when that comes to surface. It's because of that emotional response. Right? The guilt and the shame being generally the two most common ones, coupled with a bit of fear also. So that's, that's what explains the lag of time and I think, if anything movements like the Me Too here in the US and what has been going on in France, and in other countries like really trying to bring the subject to the awareness of the people is that it's hopefully starting a conversation, right? Whether at the organization level or at the general public level, but also at the individual case level. That person that might have heard of, but doesn't know, but he knows the athlete... it's really important to have that conversation. Right. So no I, I fully agree. The aspect of talking about the topic and talking about whatever might have happened with the young athlete becomes of utmost importance. And even more if you are within the athlete ecosystem you might not be the coach, you might but you’re next to the athlete, you know the person, you're aware of the person. Just having a conversation about it can go a long way because sometimes the athlete won't talk about it, right?
Manon Costard 40:44
Yeah. And you can even have the conversation with the athlete to not say, That it happened. But you can still - just the fact that you say something to them and make them start thinking about it a little bit more and understand some things. Even if they don't want to share it with you can still get to them, by talking to them and hopefully making them feel a bit better, a bit more understood. Even though it's not an open conversation they’re still going to hear the conversation, the words that the other person has to them and I think it's important. And yeah, it has to be… It's way more than just, You need to speak about it because he needs to stop. No, the first step is you need to speak about it to someone that you trust because you need to heal. So, yeah.
Matteo Luzzeri 41:48
Yeah. Now, anything that you, I guess, learned that you want to share? Because obviously this will you know, it was a recent… The Me Too movement and recent discoveries about what happened in sports, years ago, really. Not that it doesn't happen now or, but this has been a, shall we say, like a hot topic in recent years. Anything else that you've learned that you want to share?
Manon Costard 42:21
I don't know. I've learned a bit more. I've understood the importance to talk about it to someone. To me I was in complete denial of what had happened for a long time. And I understand the importance of finding someone that is gonna be there to listen to help me go through what happened or understand it, and that is the most powerful thing that you can do. Just having one conversation, or a conversation with one person multiple times if you want to. But, having one person that you can trust and that is gonna to help you make peace with what happened. Because you can't bury it forever. It affects you sometimes without even you knowing about it. Sometimes you know about it, sometimes you don't. Everyone has a different story and a different way to react to it. But no matter what it is, you have to have a person that is gonna help you understand it and help you just talk about it. And not letting it eat you from within because you keep it for yourself. And, you know...
Matteo Luzzeri 43:37
Yeah. I think the role of social support is huge, right? Certainly for situations like this. But in general, in general, it's nice to have this system of people that you know, are close to you and that you trust, even for let's say lighter topics such as: you're preparing for an event or, your motivation is going down, you're not really feeling like training. Having that support system around you. Right? It could be, you know, coaching people at the lake, friends or certainly family. People around you that you can go to becomes a crucial part of any athlete's experience, right? For important things like the one we just discussed, and for things like having a shoulder which you lay on when you're when you're trying to prepare and when you're trying to get ready when you're trying to train and things like that. So, why don't we give some shout outs. Obviously, it sounds to me like you've had a strong social support system in your skiing career. Anyone that you want to bring up that you want to thank?
Manon Costard 44:51
Well, there is a lot of people that I want to thank. First of all obviously my mom. Obviously my mom because she's been there the whole way. I just recently told her what happened. I was 13 when that happened, and she's been amazing with it. She was amazing before and it was definitely something that she didn't know, because I wasn't able to say it and there was no way for her to know. So, to her. I had amazing people, and it's not staying on that - it's not just about that subject. It’s just people that were there and that had my best interest in mind. I had coaches like that and it was great. It was great.
Matteo Luzzeri 45:40
Maybe just even beyond this topic, like someone that you want to thank for how good they've been in your career?
Manon Costard 45:54
Yeah, for sure. Well I had a few coaches that really, really influenced me and in a really good way, and the first one was my first coach. He’s passed away, Jean-Michel Cau, and he was great to me. And I also had another one, he’s passed away as well, but Claude Maluski, he was great to me. I went to them and they made me love skiing, and he was so good at just making me have a good time. And it was...he pushed me from being an “okay” skier to really wanting to do better and better and better and understanding what I'm doing and having fun and loving it. So he definitely had a huge influence on me. And then, Freddie. Freddie helped me a ton with slalom skiing. He's helped me understand, do the transition of not being coached but having a training partner. And since then it's been so cool because we’re here and we have Chris Parrish coming over every other day and skiing with us. We have a ton of people just stopping by and you do too. And even yesterday we had a set, and it's so fun to just be able to discuss on that. And he helped me a lot through the transition of learning what it is to have this training partner more than a coach. And that was cool.
Matteo Luzzeri 47:36
Yeah, it's a big transition. Did it get you, because one of the things and I'm good friends with both of you, and one of the things about Freddie is that he's clearly one of the best skiers in the world. The argument could be made of all time already, and he's still active. But he's first and foremost a fan of the sport. Like he geeks out about slalom, he loves it. Do you feel that too now? Are you like a bit of a slalom geek as well? Or?
Manon Costard 48:07
Well, I'm never gonna reach his level because he knows the dates of every tournament that he had or he knows the scores of every tournament, every person that he skied against in that tournament. He knows my scores and my places better than I do. It's ridiculous. But he did teach me a lot because I grew up being very different. I was not a ski fan. I loved skiing, and I was in skiing, so I knew what was around me. But I wasn't going online researching or looking or watching tournaments so much when I was little, so I didn't know that much of those legends that have made the sport. And he's all about that. So, definitely, we’re very different in that way where I was just doing it because I loved it and he loved seeing everyone, watching people ski non stop. So he definitely helped me doing that a little more. And I guess little by little got more interested.
Matteo Luzzeri 49:13
Yep. Yeah and the history. And yet you grew up in Europe, which is like one of the biggest pools of water ski talent there is. So I’d be curious to know, as you were coming up in the juniors, was there someone you were looking up to? Like you had some kind of model? You see what I mean?
Manon Costard 49:31
Yeah, well, every time in the French teams, I always started by being kind of the youngest one. So I would look up to...you had Nancy, you had Marion, and we were kind of the same age and we started at the same time, but we pushed each other and so it was more of people that I would see a lot and train with that would help me be motivated and I would look up to more than people that I didn't know, and that were doing great scores in tournaments. But I didn't have them in front of me. So it was harder for me to relate. I was more looking at the other people that were maybe a few years older or 10 years older. And then there was Clem and Marion, and it was cool. And Marion actually helped me a lot when I first moved here. It was cool to ski with her and same, just starting to like skiing again. Yeah.
Matteo Luzzeri 50:31
Yeah. I can see that especially for you, given that you grew up in France, and France is a humongous pool of amazing skiers. So you didn't have to look far. You didn't have to have the poster of Kristi Overton in the bedroom to be inspired. You had all these great skiers that you would see at tournaments. So that the inspiration was immediate, right? That's cool.
Manon Costard 50:57
Yeah. And, at first, in tricks, I was training with Alex Poteau too. Yeah we started skiing, tricking and training together and did that for a lot of years. And we were both tricking and I first thought, yeah, we're kind of trying to learn the same tricks at the same times and then he went way above. But yeah, it was cool. Yeah, it was more the people that I could relate to and have a connection with and that were around me.
Matteo Luzzeri 51:28
Yeah, it's funny. I think if I had to place myself probably in between, like I obviously geek out like crazy about skiing; otherwise I wouldn't be doing a podcast. But also in Italy, men’s slalom is big. So it obviously added a lot of people that I would see every other weekend and that were a bit older than me and they were running amazing buoys. So yeah, the inspiration was also like, every weekend in the summer. And now obviously you are now that kind of inspiration for a younger generation. Right? Because I think, you know, we spoke about Worlds in the first part. But I know we forgot...we didn't touch on Masters. You won Masters?
Manon Costard 52:14
Yeah. I won Masters the year before.
Matteo Luzzeri 52:16
2018. Right? Talk about that.
Manon Costard 52:21
It was awesome. Compared to Worlds, it was a very, very different thing than Worlds because I actually came out of my set at Masters, I wasn't last off the dock. And I was a bit upset. I was upset with how I skied compared to the year before, for example, I had in terms of scores, I had done a lot better. So I was like, Oh, here we go again. I messed up. It ended up being the opposite. So it was more of a surprise. It was less of a ‘okay, I'm 100% on it; I've worked so hard; it has to happen’. And it was more of, ‘oh yeah I didn’t do that great and all this...Oh actually I did quite good’. It was amazing. It's so cool because Masters...it's Masters. It’s such a big tournament for all of us and they give you your ring at the end and stuff. You’re ready for the year after and it was a cool thing. It's definitely one of the biggest tournaments to win so amazing feelings.
But yeah, I guess what was missing was that I didn't feel like I had skied like I should have skied. So it's hard to be really proud of it. And actually, Brooke had skied amazing. She missed her gate at 39. But if she hadn't, she would have won because she did I think three or four. She skied amazing. And so yeah, it was great. But compared to Worlds, it was not the same feeling at all.
Matteo Luzzeri 54:11
So it sounds like it was different in skiing terms to begin with, right? Because you weren’t the last off the dock, you did a score that you thought wasn't enough. I can't remember, did you have to run off to win or was it like the score and that was it? (Manon laughs)
Oopsie, we don't remember. Maybe we get Freddie and he’d remind us.
Manon Costard 54:32
Yeah, we need Freddie. I remember running off, no, yeah, yeah, it was a run off. Yeah, of course. Cuz I was thinking of another year of a run off with Regina and I came second. But that year we ran off again, and I won.
Matteo Luzzeri 54:54
Yeah. So it was a bit different compared to worlds in terms of, well, you ran off as well. But you ran off because someone tied you, not because you tied someone right? So skiing wise it was very different. But what about, you won the biggest institutional event. The Worlds. You're representing your country, you're going with the team jersey, the tracksuit and everything. And Masters is the biggest pro tournament. And there you're representing you, your sponsors, I don’t want to say alone, but kind of. It's gotta be feeling a bit different too, no?
Manon Costard 55:31
Oh, yeah, for sure. And what was cool about Masters is that I had just signed with Connelly. So it was a pretty big deal. Actually the same week of Masters we had done a photo shoot because I had signed not long before. So we did a photo shoot and I remember Krista telling me, ‘Hey, we want you to win Masters’ or something like that. She said it. I was like, ‘Okay. Yeah, I'd love to do that.’
Matteo Luzzeri 56:02
Oh, yeah, exactly.
Manon Costard 56:04
It actually happened and it was so cool. I was very happy because it worked out great for the ski. It was a good way to start a relationship with a sponsor like that.
Matteo Luzzeri 56:15
Yeah, for sure!
Manon Costard 56:16
And so that was really cool. It's a very different setup, right? You go to a pro tournament and you're by yourself. You ski and you do your thing. Worlds is very different. You come and there is 10 other people in the team with you and you've got your team captains and your doctors and it's so much support around you. In a way, it's more professional than the pro tournaments just because for us we have people around us. Help us getting ready for the tournament. Both of them were so cool. Masters is a huge one. It's so hard to ski there. It's so stressful. Everyone is just on the highest level that you can find.
Matteo Luzzeri 57:10
Do you feel that? Because I mean, you skied a few Masters. Do you still feel that prestige that comes with it? Like when you show up to Robin Lake?
Manon Costard 57:19
Oh, yeah, for sure. It's a very special tournament. You don't have another one like this. You show up - it's always the same. I remember going there when I was a junior, and every time I show back up the emotions that I had when I was a junior and the emotions that I had ever since, at that lake, they come back up and it's cool. It's such a cool place. You have so much pressure. It's so well organized too, because they do such a good job. It's quick and it's run to perfection and...
Matteo Luzzeri 58:04
It’s exclusive, not everyone gets to go.
Manon Costard 58:07
Yeah, for sure. And so when you go you have always had that little excitement and a lot of stress because it's Masters and it's hard to describe. It's just very different from any other pro tournament. It is the US Masters and Callaway Garden, Robin Lake. You're there, you know? It doesn't matter how many years you've been there. You have that same feeling before like the first round. They cut top four for the finals. It's huge. It's so hard. And it's early in the season. It's a lot of different feelings when you show up there.
Matteo Luzzeri 58:46
Yeah, for sure. That's one of those things that I've always recommended people go to. I live in Tallahassee and Tallahassee to Calloway’s like three hours maybe? So I've always suggested to people, even if they're not skiers, but they like watching skiing, they come at the lake.That's such a good event to go to. It's the best in the world all jammed in a day. You see everything.
Manon Costard 59:17
You see everything. Slalom, tricks, wakeboard, it's so cool. I really like it. Really like it. It's hard for skiers, because there's not many people there is no room for messing up. But it's a really cool thing to be part of. And it's a really cool time too. It's probably one of the only tournaments where, as a skier, you can watch everything else and watch a bit of everything. It's not like you're gonna have three hours of jump and you're gonna be like, ‘Well, I can't watch that. I need to go and rest.’ Everything is short enough that you can see everything that you want and still be focused on your skiing and not hurt your chances to do good.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:00:03
Yeah, for sure. Maybe even given how you said your upbringing was more not really having the idols in front of you, but a lot of immediate motivation, immediate examples to relate to. I'm sure that when you got to Masters the first time as a junior, you would have been be starstruck, no?
Manon Costard 1:00:23
Yeah, for sure. That changed a lot. Then, I had never heard of the Masters. Three or maybe two years before going there as a junior. I was that…
Matteo Luzzeri
Out of the loop.
Manon Costard
That bad - very shameful. But then you show up there and ‘Oh, wow, okay. There is a completely different world that I had no clue about.’ And, and this is so cool. You know, as a junior, you're there and you arrive a bit earlier. And that was the time where I was doing overall and I think we were doing everything.
I can't remember if we're doing everything on Friday or Friday and Saturday.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:01:05
Yeah, I think because you're not that much younger than me what we used to do, we did the Friday prelims and Saturday morning finals. And then Saturday afternoon was prelims or, no... Sorry, Thursday prelims Friday morning finals, and then Friday afternoon there will be some prelims and then Saturday more prelims and then Sunday finals. I remember, I don't know if it was the same emotion you had, I made the final. I remember in slalom, obviously in slalom you start from either end of the lake - People are starting to show up. The day before, there was no one, but then the same day some pros are gonna ski the pavilion is filled, the beaches are filled. Oh-la, it’s a different experience.
Manon Costard 1:01:50
It was so cool. Yeah, as a junior showing up there, exactly what you say. The first day it's kind of chill, you’re like, ‘Okay, you can take it easy.’ You had your meeting with all the juniors is fine. And then either your prelims goes well or not. And then if you make it to the final you.. Also the night before I was always going to see you when everyone was getting together for the open ones, before their meeting. You're like, ‘Wow, okay. Look at all these people.’ It's so cool to see all of them in one room, you know?
Matteo Luzzeri
Yeah, it's true.
Manon Costard
And then you show up for your final and there is a lot of people and it's the first real event that I was part of as a junior skier. It's a proper show. There's people watching and there is a speaker and there is music and it's all perfect timing. Yeah. Very, very cool.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:02:49
Do you remember meeting a skier you'd heard of, or watching a skier you've heard of and just be like, “Whoa!”
Manon Costard 1:02:59
Again, I would relate more to the people that I already knew. So there was Anais. I remember her going and slaloming there and I thought it was so cool. Because I knew her and so I could hang out with her and be part of seeing the other guys. Everyone that was impressive and such cool skiers and that you never get to see. So yeah, it was more through the people that I knew I would just, ‘My god, this is very, very cool.’ That's very cool. Yeah.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:03:40
Nice. So you've been there a few times now. You're obviously qualified again for this year. Let's talk a bit about 2020. How's the season looking?
Manon Costard 1:03:52
The season’s looking good. Actually, we've got quite a lot of tournaments in May and June. In the US, it's gonna be an early season between Swiss Pro, Masters, Lake 38, Malibu Open is early, there's gonna be a tournament at Bennetts. And then two weeks after that, or three weeks after that, it's the San Gervasio Pro Am. So there's gonna be quite a lot of tournaments around the same time - that's gonna be very exciting. I'm excited. I'd like to get back to where I was before Worlds: Feeling good and skiing really well like that. And having the chance to do it in a tournament where the water is flat. To see where I can go and what I can do when I feel strong and feeling like I can ski really well. See if I can apply that to tournaments this year. See if I can step it up a little bit. Again, keep in improving with my performances and see where it can lead.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:05:04
We said over this episode how high-high level performance is not just one factor, right? It's a lot of factors. And I'd be curious to hear if you want to share what is one of those factors that you feel that, if you were just to improve there, then your skiing would keep increasing. Is it more technical? Is it physical, is it mental, nutrition? Anything that you've sort of narrowed down and go, ‘Yeah, probably that's the factor that needs a bit of work.’
Manon Costard 1:05:33
Yeah, I think on all of them, honestly, I can find little things. Technique definitely. I am working on some technical points that I'm hoping are gonna make me more consistent and have better starts in my runs. Not running my passes starting from two, having a bit of a rough one. And so, I'm working on that technically and then the rest is just going to be a matter of, ‘Okay, can I recreate the connection I had between all these factors that I had right before Worlds? Can I do that at other tournaments? And can I keep my motivation in working out? And even if my back is not healthy, can I keep being so motivated and have that same set of variables that are working well together.’ For the rest of the tournaments I hope it was not just a one time thing, you know what I mean?
Matteo Luzzeri
Of course.
Manon Costard 1:06:41
When you feel like everything works out together, you're like, ‘Okay, well, now can I recreate that?’
Matteo Luzzeri 1:06:47
And I think you bring up a good point, sometimes it's not even just the need to improve on one, but more so like, ‘Can I keep all of them at a high level?’ Because it's so many. Maybe you're working out like mad and you're super strong and super fit. But then maybe you're overusing that strength at the expense of technique, right? Or maybe you're eating super healthy, you're fueling your body the way it needs to be fueled, but then you don't use it in a way at the gym that makes you stronger. It's so hard to keep that whole pie balanced, you know?
Manon Costard 1:07:27
Of course, and your energy is everything. If you think that you're doing everything perfectly, you might just be exhausted, because there's so much to do. It's hard to find that balance. So I hope I'll get back to there and I think that's gonna be my main goal for this year - trying to feel like I can manage this. And it was not just a bit of a ‘one time thing’ where it all worked out great, but can't replicate it.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:07:55
Yeah. Well listen, as a water ski fan, and as a good friend of yours, I can’t wait to see it be replicated. I can’t wait.
Manon Costard 1:08:05
Thank you. That’s nice, that’s really nice.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:08:06
Yeah. Now of course, this was a true pleasure. I'm glad we got to sit down and do this. Anything we didn't say? Any shoutouts anything you want to..
Manon Costard 1:08:16
No. I think we've gone over quite a lot of points, you know?
Matteo Luzzeri 1:08:20
Yeah. And we for sure.
Manon Costard 1:08:22
It was really cool. No, I don't think so. I've said everything I had to say.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:08:27
Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, thank you for doing so, really. Thank you for being part of this episode.
Manon Costard 1:08:34
I guess the one shout out is to you. Because it's really cool to be here. But it's also really cool that you spend so much time and (you’re) dedicated to promoting the sport and to helping us tell stories and to helping people understand, some big names in skiing better, or even some other people. What you do with the podcast I think is really cool. And that's how, between your tournament and the podcast and you're doing a lot of good things for skiing. So thank you for that. And I'm excited that you let me be part of it.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:09:13
I was stoked that you're part of this. Thanks a lot.
Manon Costard 1:09:16
Thank you.
Matteo Luzzeri 1:09:18
Boom! Cool! Done it! What do you think? (voices fade out as music rises)

Sport Psyc for Waterski Coaches