Top weather, sporting success, Méribel a little neglected… First assessment of the Alpine Skiing World Championships

The men’s downhill podium. Panoramic

While Sunday ended the first week of competition in the men’s downhill, Perrine Pelen, the general manager of the organizing committee, confided in the Figaro.

Our special correspondent in Courchevel

THE FIGARO. – What is your assessment of this first week of competition?
Perrine Pelen. – If we had imagined an ideal scenario, it would have very much resembled the one we just experienced (smile). There were two very important criteria for us. The first, the weather. From the start, she was on top. And the second criterion was sporting success. On this point, we knew that on Tuesday, with the men’s combined, we had a good chance of a medal to start these Worlds well for France. So we weren’t so demanding to ask for a gold medal, but Alexis (Pinturault) did it and put a fantastic spotlight on this competition which is so important for the whole of the French mountains. And with the bronze medal that followed in the super-G, he put everyone on a tremendous collective dynamic, which is just a joy for us, the organizers. We really feel the pride of all those who work on these Worlds, namely more than 1200 volunteers. We have been living a tremendous human adventure from the start.

In terms of the weather, does the information you have give you hope for a second week with such beautiful blue skies?
It is a bit too early to be certain beyond the next two or three days. A priori, this good weather and this anticyclone should continue. But the weather is such a complex subject, it is so subject to twists and turns that it is impossible to say anything with certainty. On the other hand, what is certain is that to have been able to get through this first week of speed, which is so demanding for the preparation of the slopes – on which around 300 people work –, in such conditions, it is a extraordinary luck. We had imagined snow plans, counting on any additional human resources that could have been mobilized outside their working hours. I am thinking, for example, of the ski instructors, who could have come to lend a hand around 5 a.m. before giving their lessons. But this beautiful sun made it possible to spare human resources, which allowed us not to suffer postponements and to keep a lot of energy, because fifteen days of competition is very long.

Perrine Pelen. Panoramic

So you had imagined possibilities of postponement…
Yes, obligatorily. With the International Federation (FIS), we had imagined certain scenarios. In particular, we asked ourselves the question of what to prioritize in such and such a situation, especially in terms of downhill training. And not having to juggle these scenarios that have such an impact on our logistics is a tremendous relief. It is a gift from heaven.

Regarding the slopes of Courchevel and Méribel, we suppose that the praise of skiers and skiers as to its quality should delight you…
Yes, clearly. We are several athletes in the organizing committee, whether it is our president who has won the instructors’ challenge five times or Marie-Marchand Arvier who was vice-world champion in Val d’Isère in 2009 and who is our manager. communication, and so we all had a real athlete sensibility. We all knew the importance of such an appointment in the career of a skier. World Championships, it takes place every two years and if once you can’t fully play your luck, it’s terrible. So in our eyes, the tracks of the two sites were really the heart of the reactor. Out of respect for the commitment of the athletes, fairness was a major subject and to hear the very positive feedback from the skiers and coaches is extremely gratifying. Especially since you should know that we started this reflection around the slopes last year because we had set up a sports organization during the World Cup finals organized here in March 2022.

French world champions

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The only downside concerning this first week concerns the public. Pinturault effect or not, there are more people, and atmosphere, in Courchevel than in Méribel…
Yes, it’s true. This is due to Alexis, no doubt, but not only. I think it also highlights the place of women’s competition, compared to men’s. It is clear that we would have liked to gather more people during this first week (58,000 spectators, including 13,000 for the day of Sunday February 12 alone), which was the first of the school holidays in our Rhône-Alpine zone. In Courchevel, on the other hand, we were completely full this Sunday with the downhill, and we will know it again with the giant on Friday and the slalom on Sunday. There is a slight discrepancy between the two sites, that’s for sure. But I hope that we will be able to rely on the success of this first week, which has put a nice spotlight on these Worlds, and on the fact that a second French zone will be on vacation. I think we will see more people in the stations, and that should allow us to fill the stands. In Méribel, we have shot at 70% capacity so far and we are working on having nice full stands for the future.

SEE ALSO – Alpine Ski Worlds: Alexis Pinturault combined world champion at home

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