Arnaud Cottet is a Swiss free-skier and entrepreneur. Since a young age, he has based and dedicated his life to the mountains and to skiing.
From Alpine ski to freestyle, Arnaud is now a photographer, video maker, and founder of the sunglasses brand – Glacier Optics.
He has participated in numerous ski and mountain projects in Europe and abroad. “We ride in Iran” was one of his big projects, where he contributed to developing the freeride scene and community in Iran.
If you want to understand how to combine professional life and passion, Arnaud can be your model.
Follow Arnaud Cottet on
Instagram | Website | Glacier Optics
Arnaud Cottet, the skier
Can you give us a short introduction?
I’m Swiss and have always lived in Switzerland. I have been travelling for years around the world for skiing. Mainly for ski expedition, but also as a freestyle ski judge.
I mostly skied in Wallis and Alpes vaudoise. Younger, I did my share of alpine racing, then skicross and finally freestyle. I had a solid level as I participated in the ski-cross world cup when I was around 20 years old.
After this, I stopped alpine skiing and moved to freestyle. I registered to the Geneva Freestyle Club, which was the only club at the time (laugh).
The Club allowed me to meet people with whom I started organising trips – mostly freeride-oriented projects. That was a great learning curve for me as I was hanging out with generally older and inspiring people.
I studied entrepreneurship at Fribourg Business School. In parallel, I had many different projects with skiing, for which I started producing videos.
Can you tell us more about “We Ride in Iran”?
In 2012, I went for the first time to Iran with my friend Benoit Goncerut. Along with a Swiss radio channel, we wanted to help people discover what it was like to ski in Iran. More than that, it was also to meet with the locals and learn more about Iran and Iranians. That’s how the project We ride in Iran started.
We spent two months there. When we came back, people hallucinated when we told them we spent so much time in Iran (they thought it was a dangerous place) and second when they saw the pictures and videos.
After that first trip, we had met and become friends with a few people over there. We went back to Iran a few times to organise a freestyle championship. We had help from the Swiss Ski Federation.
Was it challenging to organise all of this there? How much is skiing developed in Iran?
Everything takes much time. All the infrastructure and equipment is quite old. That said, quite many people do ski, usually the wealthier ones of Tehran or the people living in the mountain. In the winter, when you leave Teheran to go to the mountains, you have a traffic jam to go to the ski slopes!
This idea you may have about Iran is a “hot” / “desertic” country, so you don’t think about mountains or snow, but that’s not reality; people do like the mountains and ski.
Arnaud, the entrepreneur
What do you do to earn a living?
I do a few things. Thanks to my background in ski freestyle, I am a judge. I travel a fair amount around the world for different competitions. It is quite severe as I was a judge for the latest Olympic Games.
Since 2012, I’ve been a teacher. I usually teach over September, October, November, May and June, which gives me a lot of time during the winter months to ski, judge, work on other projects.
Finally, in 2018, I launched a sunglasses brand, Glacier Optics. We produce, as much as possible, locally.
How do you become a judge?
Freestyle is a small world. I started competing, and you meet people. Very quickly, I got acquainted with the Federation in Switzerland. One thing leading to another, you are proposed to judge, and that’s it really (smile).
How did you get the idea for Glacier Optics?
In 2018, I was in Alaska. The weather was quite bad, so we did not have so much chance to get out there, so we started thinking.
When I got back, together with my friend Benoit Goncerut, We got the idea of launching a sunglasses brand with the vision to connect with the sources and origins of mountaineering. We wanted to bring back that spirit from the great first ascents.
More than just a product, we launched Glacier Optics to tell a story.