A Mother’s Pride: The Story of Françoise Hétu and her Son, Charles Reid

It’s Sunday, January 19th, and a constant snow is falling on the town of Stoneham, Quebec. Françoise Hétu and husband, Alain, are anxiously waiting on the side of a ski trail reserved for the World Cup Slopestyle competition in snowboarding.

As Françoise and Alain nervously pace, you can feel the tension in the air: Their son, Charles Reid, is trying to win a spot on the Canadian Olympic Snowboarding team heading to Sochi. Just four years ago, to almost the day, Charles was injured at the very same venue at Stoneham trying to qualify for the Vancouver Games.

« As a parent, the only thing you hope for is that your son does not relive the same situation again, particularly since in the last couple of years, Charles has had his share of injuries. »

Charles’s passion for snowboarding began as a result of his very athletic mother, who introduced Charles and his brother to snowboarding for the first time at Tremblant when Charles was about 5 years old.

“It was the first time on a board for the three of us, since I normally ski. Let’s just say that we spent half of our day on the Nansen ski trail trying to come down.”

Charles quickly developed into quite a talent and by age 7, started competing and finding sponsors that would allow him to evolve in his sport by being able to pay for his travel costs, races, equipment and eventually a monthly salary that would permit him to fully dedicate his time to snowboarding. Charles was a happy young man, fulfilling his passion to the fullest. It goes without saying that the life of the athlete isn’t always easy when you consider the continuous ongoing rivalries and sustained injuries, which often lead to extended long breaks from competition.

« Whenever Charles calls me because he’s doubting himself, I always tell him the same thing: “Why do you do it?” I always try to bring him back to the essence of what brought him to the sport in the first place, namely his passion for the sport. »

The competition at Stoneham has begun and Charles finds himself in forth position. One last downhill run will determine whether he goes to Sochi. While the athletes fight it out, Alain takes a very tense Françoise into his arms. The competition is soon over, and Charles has done it!

With a lump in her throat and full of emotion, Françoise goes looking for her son. Hugging her, Charles shouts, “I did it, Mom! I did it!”

With tears in everyone’s eyes, the family reunites and celebrates: Françoise adds, “When your child is happy, you can’t help but feel complete happiness. I’m so proud of him.”

Saturday, February 8th, Charles will realize his dream. He will participate in the Slopestyle snowboarding competition at Sochi, with his parents accompanying him despite the trouble they had securing airlines tickets and finding a place to stay. The live broadcast of the competition will take place between midnight and 5 am on Radio-Canada. We invite you all to keep abreast of the results on Tremblant’s Facebook page and to send words of encouragement to Charles on his Facebook page.