Candide Thovex is an incredible skier. He is one of the greatest ever to do it. Hands down, no question. He is capable of creating mind-warping edits, the kind that explode out of skiing’s social circles and wind up amongst your relatives and on daytime television. His skiing is sensational, there are very few who could hold a candle to what Candide has done on two planks. That is not to mention an entirely different aspect of his legacy: his consequence as a pioneer and visionary of the sport and a hero to many. It’s Candide we’re talking about here, Candide Kamera was a comeback, remember.
Enter his latest: a minute fifty-five second edit of the man shredding grass and dirt instead of snow. It has a more cinematic feel than his recent blockbuster One of Those Days edits, which have over 20 million combined views on YouTube, but the essence is pretty much the same: just as Candide’s skiing always seems to pull at the fringes of reality, the shots in his features seem next to impossible. You have to blink yourself awake after watching.
Until now, his videos always felt like skiing. They were always recognizable as the thing you and your friends aspired to on the mountain. Those edits spawned imitators, amateur and professional alike. Candide single handedly pushed a new standard for what an edit could achieve. In watching him ski, I always feel a certain proprietary pride. Those videos are something that we as skiers knew about first. We know about Candide, we like to think of him as a part of this community. When your aunt sent you the link or it appeared in your social media feeds you were like yeah, I know. Skiing is fucking cool, and Candide is able to get that message out to the world like virtually no other.
So when he sends that last flatspin into the trunk of an Audi and you pull back from the screen and go “oh, it was a car commercial,” what are you feeling? On the one hand, there’s betrayal. You might call him a sell-out or something. A car commercial? Skiing is supposed to be anti-corporate. We tend to reject huge companies that stomp through and seize upon hot trends. Sorry, Target. Paul Mitchell, I think you could argue, hung in long enough to earn our respect.
At the same time though, we take to a Red Bull edit without flinching. Same deal for a company-specific piece: Salomon Freeski TV is basically without critics. That makes sense, that’s endemic to the industry. Those companies belong to this community, more or less, and it’s no wonder their content is designed around their brand.
But Audi? Audi’s a global company on a scale that’s almost incomprehensibly larger than the “free-” side of skiing. They’re a top player in an industry that’s contributing to the plausibility of there not actually being snow for us to ski on, even if we wanted. It feels weird. Yet, on the other hand, that money is responsible for making our jaws go slack when we see “Candide” appear in the description, because we know it’s going to be like nothing we’ve seen before. It’s hard to have your cake and eat it too.
The result is something like this: it seems lame that Candide’s new edit is a really cool car commercial. That new “WTF Candide, he isn’t real” window you’re about to click on isn’t really an edit, it’s an advertisement. And sure it looks great, but it doesn't really feel like skiing. That sucks, because Candide is arguably the coolest skier out there. He doesn’t talk much, he emerges only rarely and when he does, it’s to stun everyone. He is not lame. Vorsprung durch Technik, I guess.