The Frenchy

Living life large at 82? “no problem!”

Jacques Houot (pronouced ‘oooo ohh’) is an age-defying athlete. Some are even convinced that he’s found the fountain of youth! In the Banff Mountain Film Festival film, The Frenchy, we see 82-year-old Jacques live life with no thoughts of slowing down! In fact, I don’t think he knows how!

In the film, we see Jacques continuing to compete as a ski racer, a downhill mountain bike rider and a backcountry mountain bike rider. Medals adorn the walls of his room, and stories are abundant.

As we hear about his life story and the many different situations he’s found himself in, it’s astounding that he’s managed to reach the age he is and with the health and ability he has. Be it cancer, gun point, a heart attack, avalanches, drowning, the list goes on! None of that though, has dulled his enthusiasm for life, that infectious laugh he has or taken away his trademark saying, “no problem!”

At last count he has had around 23 or maybe 24 near-death experiences, one of the most publicised being when he was 22 years old and he accidentally drove his car off a bridge! Yikes! He still has the newspaper clipping from the accident and remembers the story well, all these years later. Like most of Jacques life, there isn’t much he’s done that you’d soon he able to forget.

Michelle Smith, the filmmaker of ‘The Frenchy’, recalls first meeting Jacques, “…while filming a cyclocross race. He couldn’t get enough of the camera and immediately started telling hilarious stories about all of his close calls on camera with no prompting. When I got home and looked through my footage I realised I had nothing by footage of Jacques. I knew a film star was born and I had to make a film about him. I asked if we could make a short film about him. His response – NO PROBLEM with a huge smile and laugh.” Now knowing a little about Jacques from the film, she subsequently made, could there have been any other answer given, except “no problem”? I don’t think so!

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