"A long-term vision"
Situated in the Jura mountains of the Saint-Claude region of France, les Tuffes is home to the Stade Jason Lamy-Chappuis, the venue for the biathlon, ski jumping and nordic combined events at the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020. We speak to Laure Lebon, the local deputy prefect, who is responsible on the French side for rolling out what will be the first co-hosted games in Olympic history.
What does organising the Youth Olympic Games involve?
We coordinate every aspect relating to security and rescue services with the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland and employ a site manager for every location, as we’re expecting between 3,000 and 4,000 people each day for the events. There’s also the whole dynamic of putting the educational and cultural programme together. There’s a certain expectation of the athletes in that respect, and the programme will also be open to the public. It’s given us an opportunity to call for projects from cultural, sporting and youth associations so that they can work with us in line with a specific brief, as their projects have to respect the values of Olympism.
It also allows us to get schoolchildren involved. It’s important for them to come and see athletes their own age and start working now on school projects that focus on the Youth Olympic Games, so that they can take the values of Olympism on board, live and breathe them and aspire to the exemplary standards that sport enshrines. Above all, however, Olympism is also about helping one another, excellence, pride, and pushing one’s boundaries. There are so many values to share.
What will be going on at the les Tuffes stadium in the year leading up to the event?
There are a little over 400 days to go and we need to keep doing what we’re doing. Last March we organised the French Nordic Skiing Championships, which gave Jura Ski Events (JSE) – the federation of all the ski clubs in the Haut-Jura region – the opportunity to put their organisational set-up for the Youth Olympic Games to the test. JSE will continue to bed in its volunteers and organisational systems when it hosts a round of the Women’s Ski Jumping World Cup and several junior competitions, which will be organised by the French Ski Federation. This will allow us, as a local authority, to see if the security plan – which includes things like access to the Stade des Tuffes and shuttle services – actually works when we have volunteers in place and spectators to deal with. That way we can run through our YOG procedures and make sure we’re ready for January 2020.
Have the YOG helped make the stadium a world-class facility?
It was already. This is where Jason Lamy-Chappuis learned his trade and everyone remembers that. The thing is, we had to close the legendary hill in 2015 because it was in a state of disrepair. The site had to look to the future and consolidate its position as a centre of excellence for Nordic skiing in France. We’ve been able to make the YOG an integral part of the project to modernise the hills and the cross-country and biathlon stadium. And these are long-term projects too. We have rebuilt and lengthened the hill, and it can now look forward to a long and prosperous life. We hope to develop talent every bit as good as the talent that took Jason to an Olympic gold medal. The YOG are also an opportunity for us to unearth gifted youngsters, and we really hope to see the champions of tomorrow come through there. It really is a long-term vision. We’re also building a 20-year partnership with Switzerland, thanks to which its Nordic teams will have access to this infrastructure and we receive, in return, financial support from the Canton of Vaud for the stadium modernisation work. It’s a win-win partnership that is proving very productive for everyone.