Saturday morning, like every winter morning, Claudine Emonet was on the slopes, in Chamonix (Haute-Savoie), where she teaches skiing. It was however not a day like the others for the instructor of Haute-Savoie. A few hours earlier, Claudine had relieved herself of "a burden" by telling Facebook that she had been sexually assaulted by her trainer, "in the late 1970s and early 1980s". When she was one of the best French skiers, with two World Cup downhill podiums.
Claudine Emonet decided to break the silence the day after her 58th birthday. She says "the grip" of her trainer, a "manipulative guru, abusing her power, attacking, harassing, threatening" who always managed to find himself alone in the car with a skier during trips. The assaults, she describes, started in the car, with touching ...
This poignant tale echoes that of Sarah Abitbol, the skater, who recently told in a book that she was raped by her coach when she was a teenager. He confirms that the omerta that has surrounded sexual violence in sport for decades is being broken. But he also raises the question of the number of assaults perpetrated by this trainer who raged for a long time in the France team and who, a few years ago, had missions on the Savoie committee. Claudine Emonet, still upset Saturday evening when we reached her on the phone, would like her testimony to free up other words.
Why speak out today and break almost 40 years of silence?
CLAUDINE EMONET. It has been incubating for a few years. In early February, there were the strong words of Jean-Claude Killy who spoke of sexual violence in sport as a more serious scourge than doping. It triggered something. Like Sarah Abitbol's testimony. Above all, one of my former teammates, Cathy Gonseth, wrote a first text on social networks. She was the courageous one who broke the silence. We called each other. We thought we had to do something, even if the facts were prescribed. It's so heavy to carry. During this time, the aggressor lives in peace. Something is wrong. We would like this to serve others, to free the voice of those, because it is not only girls, who are victims and who have not yet spoken. We want to help them carry this burden. It is a huge plague. The ski world must realize that this problem exists, that it is not spared. No, everything is not going well in our sport. And almost nothing is done to fight, prevent.
In forty years, have you never wanted to speak?
I had buried it deep down. It's so hard to wear. Sometimes, strangely it comes back like a boomerang. during the adolescence of my two children for example ( Editor's note: they are now 21 and 23 years old ). Ten years ago, I started to crack. But I still did not feel able to tell in broad daylight. I had just called the Federation and asked that the logo “victims of sexual violence in sport” be displayed on the site with the listening number. By telling myself that, perhaps, if I had had such a number when it happened, I would have spoken. I do not know.
Newsletter - The essentials of the newsEvery morning, the news seen by Le Parisien
Your email address is collected by Le Parisien to allow you to receive our news and commercial offers. Find out more
Your attacker, who you do not name, continued to coach, coaching teams for many years after ...
I don't name him, because if I give his name, he can attack me in libel and that would be horror. When, years later, I ran into him, I did everything to avoid him. I couldn't bear to see it. I don't want to see it any more, no longer want to hear it. He spoiled my life. We, the victims, we take it for perpetual, we suffer, and for him, for them, the guys (the aggressors), everything is fine.
In your testimony, you tell about the grip, the operating mode, of your attacker, who managed to find himself alone with a victim in his car. You also specify that you were of age, but that others were minor ...
Yes, Cathy (Gonseth) was a minor. It was worse for her. I ended up succeeding in repelling him, maybe not her.
You say you managed to repel it?
Yes, not at first. But after several times, yes, I managed to push it away. I still find it hard to talk about it. In my head, everything is always shaking up a bit.
Do you think he attacked a lot of victims?
At least two, therefore, for sure. But more, yes probably ... I understand that it is difficult for them to speak, it is a long way.
Do you regret today that you did not file a complaint at the time?
Of course, I wish I could have made a complaint. But even more than today, it was a taboo subject at the time. I was just 18 years old, I was a real kid. There was retaliation ...
Retaliation, that is to say?
( Long silence ) It could for example be non-selections for the Worlds.
Did this happen to you?
Once, I really felt it that way.
You talk about a huge scourge. What do you think should be put in place in terms of prevention?
First there must be an awareness of the magnitude of the problem. It is essential that young people know that it can happen, but that they should not be submitted. Things have to be put in place so that they can talk about it right away. We must scare the perverts.
Do you feel that things can change today?
Yes. Speech becomes free. Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu is quite firm in what she says. I feel determined, that's good.
How do you feel now that you have spoken?
At first, I was relieved of a weight. But then there is a fairly difficult emotional backlash. It moves a lot. But I hope it will help me, that it will get better.