BEIJING, Feb 2 - Top level skiers change hemisphere and travel thousands of miles to get snow all year round, but Margaux Hackett will always feel at home on both sides of the Equator.
The 22-year-old, born to Kiwi father and a French mother, grew up in the French Alps but moved to New Zealand six years ago to pursue her freestyle skiing dream.
Hackett, who has dual nationality, will represent New Zealand at the Winter Olympics in the slopestyle and big air events.
"I still have my base in France, which is nice so I have my base in Europe and in New Zealand. I've always had a French passport and a Kiwi passport," Hackett told Reuters.
"But then when I was 16, at the time France didn't have a national team for freestyle skiing so it made more sense to me and I thought I would have more opportunities with New Zealand."
New Zealand have won only one medal at the Olympics in freestyle skiing since the sport made its debut at the 1992 Games while France claimed 14.
No regrets, however, for Hackett.
"I don't know what would have happened if I hadn't gone to New Zealand, so I think going there opened up some doors for me," she explained.
"But I'm still grateful for my upbringing in France and for all the coaches who helped me in France and going to New Zealand is just a bonus, and being able to represent any country at the Olympics is a big chance so I'm really stoked. I still have France in my heart."
Born in Annecy, Hackett grew up in the village of Manigod and started with Alpine skiing before switching to freestyle skiing at the age of 11, feeling she would get more thrills from that discipline.
A self-described "adrenaline junkie," Hackett is the daughter of Allan John Hackett, a New Zealand entrepreneur who popularized bungy jumping notably with a jump from the Eiffel Tower in 1987.
A speed skier as well, he met Margaux's mother while competing in France.
"My parents didn't move with me, but they supported me through it," said Hackett, who made her first bungy jump when she was four, in Indonesia.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hackett's parents did not make the trip, but they will be supporting her from home.
"They will cheer for me in the middle of the night as I think my events are around 2:30 a.m. in France. But I feel their support from afar."
Excited to be in an Olympic village for the first time, Hackett is likely to keep in touch with her French side.
"One of the girls here is Tess Ledeux, she's one of the best out there and we actually used to compete against each other when we were little," said Hackett, whose best result at a World Cup event is two fourth places in Big Air in 2019-20.
Ledeux is a two-time world champion and four-time Winter X Games gold medalist.