POSTED: December 8th 2010

Annecy 2018 insists smaller cities have heritage and tradition on their side

Chamonix and Mont Blanc have the legacy as the birthplace of the winter Games / ATOUT FRANCE / Jean Francois Tripelon-Jarry
Chamonix and Mont Blanc have the legacy as the birthplace of the winter Games / ATOUT FRANCE / Jean Francois Tripelon-Jarry

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA, Dec 8: Containing the geography of a winter Olympics venue is a crucial factor in maintaining and extending the appeal to young people of winter sports, according to Annecy 2018 ceo Edgar Grospiron.

Annecy competes in Durban next July against Munich and PyeongChang for the right to host the 2018 Games and secure a second successive European hosting after Sochi in 2014. The long-term value of the French city’s compact concept was set out by Grospiron in an exclusive interview with

Do you think there is a need to hold the winter Games in a smaller city as opposed to a big city?

That is a strategy the IOC needs to think about. For example, if we do the winter Olympics in big cities you will reach and get the youth involved at the time – but maybe not so many after the Olympics have left town. They will not be able to go ski and train and even build a career in winter sports because the centre is so far distant from the mountains.

In Annecy all the local kids go skiing every weekend. There is a lot of ski and ice sports activity. You can reach many more people directly and many more youth with the chance to get them involved with a sports career and a sports club. They are very active – if you come on a Saturday morning and just look in the car park there are maybe a hundred kids being dropped off by their parents to go to the sports clubs and ski for the weekend.

Was there a major city option?

If we had wanted a big city close to the mountains, we could have gone to Lyon which is only two hours from Chamonix. But the youth in Lyon are not so interested in going skiing as much. They just go for holidays and Christmas mainly and not a lot of them – they go because their parents own a chalet in the region.

In Annecy, however, winter sports have a huge following. Everyone is either skiing or playing ice hockey.

How do you see hosting the Olympics as expanding the winter sports market already in place there?

The territory is already a major market and what we have to do is make things bigger and better and raise the bar in terms of quality. We want to improve. It is not a matter of considering just tourism, there is also the local agriculture and industry to consider and the fact that if you build more hotels you could upset the environmental ecosystem. So we need to manage all this very carefully . . . It is a huge project.

Do you have any specialized youth programmes?

That is one of the pillars of our bid – what we are doing with the French NOC to bring 200 kids from different NOCs to France and also to the region of Annecy to ski and skate. We are working on this as an ongoing programme, not just something for a set time.

What is your favorite feature of the bid?

The new concept is really strong, emphasising the [Games’ site] integration into the mountains. It would be wonderful not only for the celebration of the event but for the future of the country and, I hope, for the future of Olympism. It is not about just celebrating great Games but trying to go further.

Keywords · Annecy · Edgar Grospiron · Olympic bidding · Chamonix

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