It’s always exciting when the trail building teams in Morzine and the Portes du Soliel get some new blood. After all, new eyes and fresh talent make our bike trails more fun and mean they’re constantly evolving. So you can imagine our stoke levels when we found out the Pleney had a new trail shaper and bike patroller, AND she’s a woman! Yup, Sandy Termier is the only woman qualified in trail management and bike patrol in France. Obviously, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to talk to her and find out more.
Hi Sandy! So firstly, a little bit about you – where are you from? How long have you been riding bikes? What were doing before you came to work in Morzine?
I come from Vercors, it’s a mountain range located above Grenoble, and it’s great for mountain biking, especially enduro. I’ve always done a little bit of mountain biking, but I would say that I really got into downhill about four years ago. Before coming to work in Morzine, I was in the bike patrol at Villard de Lans, a small station in the Vercors. In the winter I work in ski patrol at a different resort called Autrans and the rest of the time I am a first aid trainer.
Your role at the Pleney bike park is new this year, what are your day-to-day duties?
In the Pleney bike park, my day is busy! Firstly, I open up the tracks before they open to the riders, I make sure all the signs are in place, check the padding on the trees, that there are no branches across the tracks, and that there are no other dangers. After that, I take my shovel and my pick and I head to the trails to remove the holes and breaking bumps, redo berms… or I create a section to make the track more fun! If someone gets hurt I go to them first and perform the necessary first aid, then I hand over to the fire service / medics who will take the injured person off the mountain. At the end of the day, I wait for the gondola to close, I close all the trails, and I check that there are no injured people up there before I go.
Do you have any long-term plans for the bike park?
My projects for bike park are broad, I want first and foremost to keep the technical, rooty trails that the Pleney is known for while also making the tracks more fun and accessible to everyone.
How did you start / become interested in designing bike parks?
I’ve always been passionate about creating trails and mountain rescue, so I fit my studies around my passions. I have a diploma in maintenance and management of mountain space, and I have worked in rescue since the age of 16. My first job in this area was creating hiking trails, but as I became more passionate about mountain biking, I found myself shaping trails above my house, or adding to existing trails to make them more fun on my bike. Then I did my bike patrol training, which incorporates biking, shaping and rescue; that taught me the skills to maintain, manage and create mountain bike trails to a really high standard. All my passions in one place, what could be better?
Are there a lot of other women doing the same type of work as you? Is it difficult to be a woman working in a male-dominated sport?
In France, I am the only woman qualified in bike patrol, so I’ve had no trouble finding work in this area! My studies in mountain trail management and my qualifications in first aid are a real plus. I think being a woman in a male team brings a little something different compared to a team made up just of men.
Finally, how does mountain biking in Morzine and the Portes du Soleil compare to other places you’ve ridden?
Mountain biking in the PDS is just crazy! The bike parks offer an immense variety of riding, between rolling trails with well-shaped jumps to the tracks that are more technical and steep. It’s impossible to get bored here. Les Portes du Soleil has been able to operate seamlessly and offer mountain biking across its resorts, which is great to experience. The amount of linked resorts is a real plus, it allows you to do good day’s riding over a variety of terrain, where each view is more beautiful than the one before. It’s a privilege for me to work in Morzine and ensure that we’re always offering the best standards on the Pleney, as well as to maintain the hidden, technical trails it’s known for.
Make sure you look out for Sandy at work on the Pleney and follow her on Instagram.