We caught up with 2015 Men’s Ski Big Mountain winner Sébastien Varlet to see what he’s got planned for The North Face Frontier Freeride World Qualifier 4* this year.

Firstly a little background on you! You’re from France but you come to NZ every year to work?

Yes I am from France. I came to NZ for the first time in 2013 and I’ve spent the last three New Zealand winters as a ski instructor teaching at The Remarkables.

What brings you back every year?

Back home (in Les Gets ski resort, France) I’ve been a ski instructor for five years. After finishing my studies, I wanted to travel the world with my skis, so I decided to do a season in New Zealand during my summer time. I had such a good time, meeting people from all around the world with the same passion, and discovering new places to ski with beautiful landscapes so I decided to come back for the last three years.

How many times have you competed at The NZ Freeski Open (now The North Face Frontier)?

I have competed three times at the NZ Freeski Open. It will be my fourth time in August.

What are you most looking forward to about this year’s competition?

The new format (4*) of the Frontier will bring lot of great skiers from all around the world. I’m looking forward to see some new lines coming up from locals and creative skiers who have not skied the face before and take another approach. Yann who is on the tour for next year is competing, Charlie is here as well and so many good Kiwis with insane ideas will drop in. It’s going to be a sick show!

What do you think it would take for you to win again this year?

To win again? First it’s going to be hard to get to the podium. The main idea will be to create a new line, as I’m not a good freestyler, I will aim for a “mountain goat” line with speed and big drops. Then have fun shredding it and see how it goes.

What else do you get up to in NZ when you’re not skiing?

I go road tripping, hiking and discovering, it’s not a secret that New Zealand has got the most versatile and beautiful landscape. Getting a van and take the road when the snow melts is a life experience.