Documentary |  Goodbye: A champion in the shadows is retired

Documentary | Goodbye: A champion in the shadows is retired

Quebecers know their fellow snowboarding champions. But how many know that the best windsurfer on the water was also from here? Raphaël Derome announces his retirement through the documentary Byea sports story with a strong family content.

Posted at 5:00 am

Frederick Duchesneau

Frederick Duchesneau

At the age of a year and a half, Raphaël Derome was getting on water skis. His brother and his two sisters also attended, initiated by his father, Julien, a former Canadian champion.

But what attracts Olivier, Raphaël’s older brother, is the board. After years of requests in this regard, he finally won the case with his father. As is often the case, the younger will imitate the older.

Then, in 2005, Mr. Derome put into execution a plan that had been simmering for years and that would play a central role in his children’s careers. Tired of rubbing elbows with boaters on the lake, he had his own training pond built at Saint-Zotique, along the road. That’s all ! Rafael was then 13 years old.

“My father is really my inner flame, he underlines in an interview with Press. he dares For him it is possible, we go there, we dream there. And we don’t just dream, we do it. »


Julien Derome, surrounded by his sons Olivier and Raphaël, in front of the swimming pool he had built for his training.

the launch pad

Little by little, well surrounded, Raphaël Derome somehow manages to tame the pressure of the competitions, his main favorite motive. But he doesn’t find his account there.

So the sport evolves towards paths that connect it much more: first the modules and ramps, then the small cable parks, to which the handle of the snowboarders connects.

“It was like starting from scratch, I could do whatever I wanted. It was new”, explains Raphaël in the documentary.

In 2010, he headed to Cologne, Germany for the Wake the Line event. In Europe, this type of competition is popular. Unlike his brother, he is not invited, but he will get his chance due to an injury to another contestant.

In a talk, to one of Derome’s mentors, who accompanies him, he says: “You better not make a mistake because we are putting a nameless person in a great event. »

In the first round, the draw places him against…his brother. The youngest has the upper hand and the ice is broken for the rest.

Raphaël Derome wins the colognes contest and from then on everyone in the wakeboarding it is perfumed: the young man will leave his mark.

An amputation narrowly avoided

Later that year, Raphaël Derome injured his elbow. He feels that something is wrong, that the injury is not healing normally, but he is finishing the season. Six months later, a snowboard fall reveals the extent of the damage. A serious infection has spread and it will take three operations to save his forearm from amputation.


Raphaël Derome in a hospital bed, in a scene from the documentary

Part of the tendon, however, had to be sacrificed and, according to doctors, it will be for the rest of his career. His 2011 season will be. But, more motivated than ever, he swept all 14 races the following year, his “perfect season,” he said.

The two brothers will meet again at Wake the Line in 2013. We say no more here.

“Raphael was lucky to have an older brother like that,” says the father of the two athletes in the documentary.

The film was presented at several festivals and was awarded at the High Five Film Festival (Annecy, France) and the BendFilm Festival (Bend, Oregon).

The theme lends itself well to it, the work is visually very catchy, as well as being packed with supporting stock videos.

The sport draws attention there, but the essence is elsewhere.

“For me, the central theme of the film is family,” says Raphaël Derome.

the exclamation mark

At the end of the 2012 season, from a competitive point of view, Raphaël Derome has nothing more to prove. But that’s not what will keep him off the circuit for the next year, when he drops off the radar for about two years to produce his own board videos. Spectacular performances where he, finally, had fun. Where, finally, he was in his X.

“I needed the creative side, it allowed me to have fun, mix the athletic thing I wanted to do in the water with a more artistic approach, create new things for the sport,” says the 30-year-old “retired” young man. in interview

“That’s really where I had emotions. He would wake me up at night to draw the ideas he had of how he wanted to build this or that. I was passionate »

Frank Sinatra’s most famous song deals with this theme: Raphaël Derome did things his way. Analyzing his journey, it seems that every decision he made was to get a little closer to what he had a deep desire to do.

“Really,” he confirms. And also to get closer to the person I was, to find myself. My dad says it at the beginning: “He was never much into competitions, Raph.” It was not my universe. And on top of that, it’s always been a challenge for me to be in the eye of the whirlwind of attention. »

His videos allow him to work incognito, in symbiosis with his personality far removed from that of the environment.

In the end, his artistic performances will also have earned him great notoriety. Unlike team sports, it’s not just the Holy Grail that matters.

“That’s the beauty of more alternative sports like wake up “, he says.

Little active on the circuit in previous years, he arrived in Germany in 2018 to cross swords with young sensations. Again, we will let you see the result…

At the end of the decade, Raphaël Derome will be named the most influential athlete in the world. wakeboarding for the 2010s.

Today, he embarks on construction as a general contractor. In short, he goes from board to board.

“It’s sad, but liberating at the same time because we put so much pressure on ourselves. I’m going to put on my work boots, so it’s going to be a different kind of discipline. »

From ideation to project realization, Raphaël Derome will not be completely in uncharted territory, having created a panoply of surfaces for his videos.

Attention, some constructions may appear fearful in its wake…

The documentary Bye, directed by Justin Loiselle, is broadcast on a multitude of platforms from Tuesday, October 18, in English with French subtitles. A French version is being built with the aim of possibly broadcasting it on Quebec channels, the production indicates.

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