Barel makes being French look easy.Fabien Barel, arguably the quickest Frenchman in downhill now Nico has retired, (although the guy doing the arguing is Cedric Gracia), has being French down to a fine art. He has that chic factory way of wearing the Kona uniform (with the scrotum inside the trousers, Rob Warner please note); that Gallic notion of freeride as an extreme rant down virgin terrain and, more French than strictly bearable, an annoying habit of winning (he's 5th in the world at the moment and ended last season on top of the podium).
MBUK: So can you give us some tips on being French Fabien?
Fabien: It's simple, just be the best.
How French is that!
OK, end of Michel-taking, Fabien rather blows his frenchness by making self deprecating jokes in English, and they're funny. He's also more interesting and insightful about downhill riding in his second language than many downhillers are in their first.
Fabien, who was World Junior Downhill Champ in 1998, lives in Pielle, on the same road as multi World Champ Nico and some other World Champ dude. So the locals call his road 'the Street of Champions'.
"We had a guy who wanted to get good at downhill so he bought a house in our street first," laughs Fabien. "But it doesn't seem to work like that."
Picture 1: Fabien skulking in the Champions Corner of the MBUK office
Main picture: Fabien starts the 03 season as he means to go on - waving a drinking vessel erratically over his head.
To see just how French Ab Fab can get browser over to http://www.teamkonaclarks.com