By Lauren Friedgen '16
Meggane and Guillaume Grand have been skiing since they were able to walk. Their father was on France's national ski team and their mother was on Spain's national ski team, so it was only natural for the siblings to start skiing at an early age, but they've continued because of their love for it. Both Grands competed in France before joining the Saint Michael's College Alpine skiing team; Meggane '18 came to the U.S. in 2014, and Guillaume '19 joined her a year later after competing in the European Cup.
Last year, the siblings, along with Torjus Grimsrud '19, qualified for the NCAA Championship in Steamboat Springs, Colo., where they single-handedly combined for a 15th-place team finish among 21 institutions, the vast majority of which had more than three competitors. The three student-athletes are among just 13 Saint Michael's College students to ever compete at an NCAA Championship.
"It was a lot of fun," says Meggane. "It was great to be out West and see something different, and it was a great experience because the best college skiers in the U.S. were competing." Guillaume agrees that the NCAA competition was fun, but added: "We also were staying focused on the goal, which was to do pretty well in the races." Guillaume placed ninth for slalom on March 11, giving him the top finish ever by a Saint Michael's skier at the NCAAs and making him the first to earn an All-America honor. He also set a school record by taking 12th in the giant slalom on March 9.
Meggane says the snow is different in Vermont from what she was used to. In Europe it's warmer and the snow is a little softer than Vermont's icy snow. "[As a first-year] I kind of struggled," she says, "because it's so different. It's pretty hard physically to be on the ice all the time, but it's great for training and for racing. For us, it's like the perfect setting, so it was great."
She says the skiing culture is different as well. "Back home there's a lot of pressure. People are really pushing you to give your best. Here they kind of tell you if you do great, that's awesome, if you don't, it's fine. This pushes you in a different way — you aren't thinking that if you fail everybody's going to look down on you."
Meggane and Guillaume say studying in a different language can be difficult at times. Guillaume didn't speak English before coming to the U.S., so having his sister around was helpful with this transition. "It's fun," Meggane comments on attending the same school as her brother. "We get along really well — we always have. There's obviously fighting sometimes because we're siblings and that happens, but we push each other in our skiing; we really try to get the other to perform at their best."
"She sets an example for studying," Guillaume chimes in, "and I try to set an example for skiing because I'm not as good as her at studying."
"And he's better than me at skiing," Meggane adds. After graduation, Guillaume hopes to compete in the North American Cup, and if all is going well, ski in the European Cup again. Meggane doesn't see herself competing after Saint Michael's, but will always continue to ski for fun. For now, Guillaume and Meggane look forward to seeing what this coming season holds for them and the rest of the Alpine skiing team.