We Are The Champions - Part 2: Morgane Charre
Part two of four, we move onto senior women's Champion Morgane Charre. Another dark horse at the Champs, she came to show that the big names that the result wasn't wrapped up before the race started. A big name now, with more to come. We had a chat to her a few weeks ago, and here's the result...
Let’s start with your World Champs win in Leogang last year. It must have been amazing to have won so quickly, compared to some others, who have been trying for years..?
Yes, for sure… I think that for many riders, World Champs is THE race to win. And there are some girls who are on the podium at every World Cup, who win sometimes, and who really deserves it!
That was not my goal but my first victory at the world level was the World Champs... Obviously, there is a bit of luck there!
What happened that day? You smashed the time when you came down, and none of the riders after you could get within a second. Did something special happen?
I can’t really explain it… Maybe it the combination of many little things, but to sum up, it was a perfect week for me! That was the first time I was selected for the World Champs… it was a really good experience to be with the national team and I was really proud to ride with the French jersey. The staff were always there if we needed anything. The conditions were really different from what I was used to, but that was cool to feel that you only have to think about riding your bike! So, I felt very relaxed! My bike was perfect, thanks to Hugues [Morgane’s boyfriend]. I had no crash during the week; I loved the track and had so much fun during all the training sessions! Some of my best friends had come to see the race… All of that meant that I was in good condition, but I didn’t imagine doing that…
Right before the start, I looked at the familiar faces around me, the guys from the French Team, Arthur from BOS, Hugues, Sabrina… They were smiling and it gave me confidence! I was feeling good, not stressed, just ready to ride! During my run, I had a great feeling that I never had during the previous races… I had a good flow all the way down, taking every line I wanted as I wanted! I was riding mud tyres and I think that it was really better in the woods section. Everything went well, I just wanted to give my best during the run, and it worked better than expected!
Was winning the Champs something you had been working towards? Was it expected?
I never imagined me winning the 2012 World Champs. Maybe a few years later but not so early! My goal was to be in the Top 5 like at Val Di Sole… I didn’t specifically train for Leogang. As my goal was not to win, I didn’t focus on World Champs but I tried to do my best at every race. I trained hard during the winter and I think it helped me a lot during the season.
In August, I didn’t race too much. I was a bit frustrated to finish 10th at the world cups like Val d’Isère and Windham after my good start of season at Val Di Sole and Fort William. I spent the month living in Morzine and that was amazing. I was with my friends, not thinking about races but just having fun riding my bike! It was a great mix of enduro, DH, Lake, Farniente, Swimming rings, BBQ’s… and after that, I was completely in confidence on my bike and my batteries were 100% recharged. I was incredibly motivated to race again, and wanted to give my best in Leogang.
You had a few little modifications to your bike then, didn’t you? More specifically, the air system on your brakes. Quick explanation?
Ahah Yeah, that’s right! I had the chance to have the best mechanic in the world! He always thinks about the little things that makes a bike better and I could never thank him enough for that…
For the air system, the idea comes from Willy (the mechanic of Aurelien Giordanengo). It’s all about a little air pressure added on one side of the brake lever so you can adjust the guard of the brake and it stays the same all the way down! It worked very well!
What’s the plan this year then? Are you racing all the World Cups?
I’m working until the end of April and I’m training too, then I’ll race all the World Cups, World Champs, some Nationals races and IXS… I’m really impatient, can’t wait for the start of the season! Between the races I’ll mainly stay in Morzine I think. There are always great people to ride with there and Les Portes du Soleil offers plenty of great tracks like in Morgins, Chatel… I would like to go to Whistler too. As every MTB rider, it always made me dream but I haven’t had the opportunity to go there yet…
Girls in mountain biking. It’s quite a small community at the moment, judging by the race entries. Is that something you would like to see change?
Yes for sure. It would be really great to see more girls riding “gravity" MTB disciplines. I guess there are more girls riding now than a few years ago (even if it only stays a really small percentage of the riders at the moment) so I hope the girls’ community will keep on growing…
How do you change that? More girls’ coaching sessions? Races?
For me, coaching sessions looks like a good solution. I’m pretty sure that it helps a lot to gain confidence when it’s only between girls. I remember having read reports of this kind of girl sessions with Tracy Moseley and another one with Emmeline Ragot and Fionn Griffiths. I think it’s a really good initiative! I guess that if brands and teams helped more of the girl riders and if they increased their communication about it, it would help a lot too!
Even though you’re World Champ, the media coverage doesn’t seem to have been huge over here. What’s your opinion on that?
Hmm. I don’t really know. It was all new for me; I never really had many interviews before that. I had quite long interviews in 3 of the main French MTB magazines what I think is not so bad… Obviously, I would like more but… maybe it’ll come with the start of the season approaching!
What bike will you be on next year?
Surprise! Ahah… All I can say is that it’s a new adventure which is starting for me, I’m pretty excited about that! You’ll know more soon…!
And finally, are you trying bigger wheels? What’re your thoughts?
I’ve been trying a 29"… during 5mn, 2 years ago! I’m not really attracted by the bigger wheels… What I love in MTB is using the little roots or anything to jump, taking little corners between the trees and having fun like that! I can’t imagine a 29" or a 27,5" more fun than a 26… maybe it’s faster but I think that the bike that make you go fast is the bike you enjoy riding! I’m not against bigger wheels, maybe it can be faster for taller people or on some specific tracks but I’m not convinced yet.
So there you have it. After her performance at Leogang last year, Morgane is definitely one to watch in the coming season. Here come the French!