There's gold in them thar' hills!

A former EN Department trainee, Vincent Gauthier-Manuel, has come away from the 2011 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championship at Sestriere in Italy with three world titles and now has his sights firmly set on the 2014 Paralympics.


Vincent Gauthier-Manuel at the IPC Alpine Skiing Championship in Sestriere, in January 2011.

It's been nearly five years since Vincent Gauthier-Manuel successfully completed his two-month traineeship in the EN Department. Now 24, Vincent is making a name for himself in another field - he won three medals in the "standing" category at the Vancouver Paralympic Games in 2010 (Super-G, Super Combined and Slalom) and has now been crowned triple World Champion (Super Combined, Slalom and Giant Slalom) at Sestriere in Italy in January 2011. Vincent hails from the French Jura and was born, on 6 April 1986, with a truncated left arm. Making light of this disability, he took up skiing at an early age, starting with cross-country before moving on to downhill. Up until 2006, he was a member of an able-bodied sports academy, but then decided to pursue a career in disabled skiing at the highest level. Thanks to a state scheme for top athletes, the Convention d'Insertion Professionnelle, he has been able to strike a balance between his passion for skiing, which he pursues for six months of the year, and his job as a technician in the design office of a packaging firm.

At CERN, Vincent worked on the LHC collimators. "He was very proud to work on the LHC," recalls Jean-Pierre Corso, a technical engineer in the EN Department's accelerator integration team, who knew Vincent well. "He's a very friendly and active young man with a real passion for sport."

Another CERN staff member who knows the champion well is Jean-Yves Le Meur, responsible for the CERN Document Server, himself an eminent paralympic skier. It was thanks to Jean-Yves that Vincent took up the sport at a time when he was jaded with able-bodied competition and thinking of giving up his passion altogether. "Vincent was a really good skier, and we were delighted to take him under our wing. He joined my club and that's how I took him to his first race," Jean-Yves relates. "He had excellent balance and amazing agility in his legs, qualities which I'm sure he developed as a child." So what other qualities does Vincent Gauthier-Manuel possess? A steely resolve, a charming personality and deep humility – plus his own unique preparations during the final minutes before a race: "He jumps about and runs up and down, all over the place, and only turns up at the start at the very last minute!"

With the World Championships now behind him, Vincent is already preparing for the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, where he will surely be going for gold once more.

Keep up to date with Vincent Gauthier-Manuel's progress on the Vincent Team website.


by Anaïs Vernède & Anaïs Schaeffer