Eli Bouchard put on boots, a suit and a coat, then took his snowboard. A few minutes later, behind his home in Lac-Beauport, he jumped up a slope and made a leap worthy of a 15-year-old athlete.
But Eli is only 9 years old. With his long blond hair and pretty face, he already has the head of a professional rider . What makes him unique, however, are his exploits on snow. “We have a small Formula 1 in our hands,” said his father Francois in an interview with Le Soleil, in the middle of the forest, near the family home.
At 8, Eli became the youngest athlete in the world to succeed in a double backflip . The videos of his spins have become viral in China. So much so that Eli, his brother and his parents are going there on Tuesday to take part in the first Banana Open, a professional acrobatic downhill competition on Saturday and Sunday, with the participation of Quebec champion Maxence Parrot.
The organizers seem to have great ambitions for little Eli: to make him one of the stars of his sport in China, where even the Shaun White and Mark McMorris do not have as much fame as in the rest of the world. “I’ve seen several videos from Eli, and our team believes that this boy is [the star] we’re looking for,” wrote the Athlete Manager at the Banana Open in an email received by the Bouchard family.
A schedule including television shows and public appearances is already awaiting Eli, whose notoriety precedes it in China. “I’m happy and very excited,” said the young man, more comfortable on his board than in an interview. When asked what he wants to prove there, he hesitates a little: “That I am the best in snow, ” he finally replies.
Guided by his maniacal father of this sport, he starts snowboarding at 18 months, like his elder brother, Zac. Fiston possesses a raw talent, realizes very quickly the paternal.
“One, he did not want to go for hot chocolate. Two, I saw that it was natural. It was not square [on his board]. We started to have fun, to make jumps. I saw that he was good, that he was happy. In competition, I saw that he wanted to win. He was not only talented: he was proud and competitive, “says Francois Bouchard.
Eli is a third-year student at Ecole Vision, a trilingual private institution. She teaches four days in order to be able to go on a family trip to Sainte-Agathe on Friday. There, he trains at the Maximise Center, under the guidance of Max Henault.