Faction and Candide Thovex – that’s a huge step, how did this come about?

Tony McWilliam: I first saw Candide ski over 10 years ago when I was living in Les Arcs, France. Candide was 16 and skiing as an invited rider at the Quikcup event, as he was too young to compete. Even at that age he was phenomenal and he already had his distinctive style. Here was this young kid going huge off these kickers and in the pipe, showing a style and technique that would go on to win him X Games gold just a couple of years later.

All the staff at Faction have been inspired by Candide through out his career, and for me it started with the Quikcup, but there are so many events from his career that will affect you regardless of what area you are passionate about in skiing. From his X Games golds in Big Air, Superpipe and Slopestyle, to running events that were way ahead of their time – the Candide Invitational, and onto his Candide Kamera projects and then winning the Freeride World Tour, you can’t help but be influenced, affected or inspired by Candide as a rider.

I started Faction a few years after the Quikcup and I like to think that we have worked hard to utilize the same ethos as Candide does in his skiing for the development of Faction. We always strive to be ahead of the game and search for the most innovative technology to make the highest quality product possible while doing it with style, flair and personality. 

When the opportunity came up last year to start working with Candide through mutual friends, it was a pretty natural progression. We’re a pretty unique group of skiers here at Faction. Although we’re based in Verbier, I’m Australian and our crew is a mix of Swiss, Canadian, American, Scottish and more, so there’s a really diverse mix of cultures, interests, backgrounds and experiences. Our North American office is in Breckenridge, our skis are sold in over 16 countries worldwide and we’re getting more and more fans worldwide who love what we do. Our ethos and the people who ride our skis don’t fall easily into clichés or simple categories because we are such a diverse group of people – that’s why we call ourselves the Faction Collective – and that’s why there was an appeal to working with someone like Candide. He is difficult to classify as a skier because of his diversity, but is as well known in North America as he is in France, and definitely fits with our world-view. 

We are in the perfect place to take this project on and work with someone like Candide, who is as passionate about skiing as we are. Candide’s been over here in Verbier for the last couple of weeks filming for his Quiksilver project, fine-tuning the skis, hanging out at the office developing other ideas and generally getting into trouble. We’re all skiers and we design and test the products here and it’s been such a great experience to be working with such a creative rider, who like us has ideas about all aspects of skiing. The added bonus has been that the snow’s been amazing here in Europe so we have been able to get out the office and go shredding with Candide and show him our home mountain.

What’s first in terms of collaboration with Candide? Are you launching anything this year?

The first thing we realized is that we wanted to do this more as a collaborative project rather than add products within our standard line-up. It was an opportunity for us to start with a blank piece of paper and look at what new technologies were out there and what we could do that would create a better product as a whole. Candide really liked a few skis in our lineup already, so we took their platforms as a base – specifically the 3.zero freeride ski and the Kennedy park ski – and then looked at how we could improve on them. Our skis are generally pretty stiff but comparatively lightweight which is what we have built our reputation on. Candide wanted to fine-tune the flexes and core profiles of the skis to suit his style. His skiing over the whole mountain is influenced by his freestyle background and he wanted a flex with a bit more ‘feel’ to it, and we found a Swiss company run by Cyrille Boinay who make recycled PET cores that have a higher tensile strength than wood at a lower density and with much less weight.

Candide and I saw it as a way to make skis that are lighter weight with higher performance and lower environmental impact than traditionally built – something we’ve been trying to achieve for years. They just feel amazing on snow. Combine that with the refinement of the flexes, the tip/tail rocker on the 3.zero and the shapes themselves and the first year’s lineup is pretty damn exciting.

So for the first year of the Faction x Candide Thovex collaboration we’ve developed three models. The Candide 3.0, which is based on the 3.zero platform, the Candide 1.0, which is the park and pipe ski based on the Kennedy, and finally the Candide 0.5, which is a kids all-mountain twin. Candide is passionate about getting kids skiing and it was really important to him to have a ski that could nurture the next generation.

What can we expect to see from Faction x Candive Thovex collaboration next year and beyond?

Surprisingly Candide was pretty new to rockered skis, and the design potential there. We’ve been developing different camber lines for over four years now, and Candide’s really starting to understand and explore the possibilities that exist. He’s been testing the products in lots of different conditions and we’re already working on ideas for 2013/2014. We’re also working on natural replacements for fiberglass/carbon fiber that we can incorporate into ski production as well as poles and helmets. We definitely want to take this collaboration into new areas. We’ve both got so many ideas about product design and the combination of our skills with Candide’s experience makes this a really exciting time for us.

What are Candide’s plans after his movie? Will he return to competition?

The Quiksilver film is going to be huge. It’s a two-year project and watching Candide film yesterday in Verbier proved that his skiing is seriously at the top of his game. Like us, he’s pretty independent and has his own plans for the future. He may compete again, but his focus right now is on filming and directing, so until the film released at the end of this year we’ll just kind of wait and see.

One of our favorite things about Candide is his ability to redefine the sport in a single project, and no one even sees it coming. You might hear rumors that Candide is working on this or that, or that he’s getting back into something else, but no one ever knows and then he just blows every skier out the water with what he comes up with. Every door is open and you can’t rule anything out. 

Working with us and getting further involved in developing products is really a new stage of his career, but skiing will always be his focus. Our expertise is design and manufacturing and combining that with Candide’s ideas and the demands he places on products help us push each other to a higher level.