Thursday, November 9, the large hall of the Théâtre du Rond-Point is packed. Among the spectators, Claude Lelouch and a crowd of anonymous people. Some have probably never entered a theater. Others may have never seen a Martin Fourcade race.
The biathlete is, however, the most successful French athlete at the Olympic Games, summer and winter combined - five medals, not to mention his eleven individual world champion titles.
Also read: Martin Fourcade: “The day I decided to stop my sporting career, I experienced a feeling of perfect timing”
On March 14, 2020, he competed in his last race on the tracks of Kontiolahti, Finland. One last victory behind closed doors because of Covid-19. An apotheosis and the frustration of retiring without saying goodbye to those who encouraged and applauded him over the years. He could have signed a series with Netflix (perhaps that will come) or written a book (he has already published two).
He chose the theater. A one-off entitled Hors-piste. After Grenoble and Paris, Fourcade will travel across France until March, from Perpignan to Colmar, for a farewell tour which will allow him to support his rifle one last time in public.
Not a weapon, but an extension of himself. For laymen, it is good to remember that biathlon combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. How about pétanque and swimming? Fourcade has been asked the question thousands of times. He answers it again, recalling that his sport comes from Norwegian hunters. Moving and surviving is not a game.
Fourcade is a child of the Pyrenees raised in the great outdoors. His older brother, Simon, his role model, precedes him in the French team. However, at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, it was he, Martin, the youngest, who stood on the podium, silver medal around his neck. Simon is crying. Jealousy eats away at him. Breakup is inevitable. Martin chooses to become a champion. He accepts his selfishness - reconciliation will come later.
This founding scene opens the show and launches the story. Fourcade recounts his life and his career as a high-level athlete. Without glorifying or trivializing them. Thirty hours of training per week. The obsession with winning. Routine. Media pressure. The collapse in 2019 and the comeback in 2020. If he took advantage of an extraordinary predisposition - 24 heartbeats per minute, his “superhero gift”, Fourcade did not leave much randomly.
The athlete doesn't consider himself an actor, but the boards don't scare him. Neither archive images nor race clips to serve as crutches. The stage is his domain.
It allows him to delay this little death that is the retirement of an athlete. The day after the last performance, Fourcade, 35 years old and father of three children whom he finally has time to watch grow up, will begin the first day of the rest of his life.
November 14 at Équinoxe, national stage of Châteauroux, November 22 and 23 at Célestins in Lyon, then on tour.