Xavier de Le Rue is a boardercross snowboard world champion from France
De Le Rue survived a near-fatal avalanche but says it galvanized his love of sport
The 34-year-old narrowly missed out on a spot in the French Winter Olympics team
He also tackles big-mountain challenges, including a trip to Antarctica
Only in the extreme world of big-mountain snowboarding could someone cheat death in an avalanche and realize it had reaffirmed their love of the powder.
But perhaps it isn’t surprising when Xavier de Le Rue describes his relationship with nature as a need, or a drug.
It is also a synergy that provides solace in the wake of bitter disappointment, such as finding out your Winter Olympics dream is finally over.
“This huge avalanche took me 2 km down the mountain,” the Frenchman tells CNN’s Human to Hero series of the moment he feared nature had finally beaten him.
“It was one of these perfect days and you forget that in a split second, things can change radically and then, suddenly the whole mountain broke around me.
“It is a miracle that I survived because I was lying on top of six meters of snow, completely broken with blood coming out of every hole in my body and completely unconscious.”
Unsurprisingly, that near-death experience six years ago launched a wave of introspection.
“I asked myself for months whether I should keep going or not, whether what I was doing was stupid,” the 34-year-old says.
“I realized that I loved it even more than I thought and but I’ve always had these rules in my head to be more scared about everything all the time, but at the same time being a lot more focused.
“I think that right now, if I am freaked out about safety I will do no compromise. If I don’t feel something, I’ll just go back home.”
De Le Rue’s discipline is boardercross – essentially, a race from the top of a mountain to the bottom between a clutch of snowboarders.