"The Games clearly enable us to improve our offer to the general public" – Eric Liechti, Municipality of Les Diaberets
As a Municipal Councillor in charge of Tourism and member of the Board of Directors of the Diablerets Tourist Office, Erich Liechti is very clear in his opinion that the Youth Olympic Games are an unique catalyst for the development of the Vaud resort.
Eric spoke to us about how Lausanne 2020 will directly contribute to the development of Les Diablerets.
It is often said that the Youth Olympic Games are a unique opportunity for host regions to seize. In practical terms, what does this mean for Diablerets?
It is very clear to us that the Youth Olympic Games will mark a turning point for Les Diablerets. The Games will not only allow us to welcome the best skiers in the world under the Olympic flag, but also contribute to our future long-term development. Knowing that 50% of our customers come from abroad, and that competition in our field is growing fierce, these aspects are fundamental for us. They mainly concern two areas: infrastructure and training for young skiers.
Let's start with infrastructure: what will be the "physical" legacy of the Games for the station?
The Youth Olympic Games will enable us to provide solutions to four challenges in our ski area, which we share with the Villars resort. First of all, a new ski lift installation will allow us to transport skiers and luge athletes to their respective slopes from a lowered start, closer to the car parks. Secondly, the Games allow us to bring the our ski slopes into line with the new technical and safety standards of the International Ski Federation, FIS. So, soon, we will again be able to host FIS races at Les Diablerets!
Thirdly, we will also be able to build a very important path in the middle of the track by constructing a tunnel. This will make the track safer for all our users in the future. And finally, the Games allow us to modernise our mechanical snowmaking system, which allows us to offer a better service to all of our customers during the winter.
You also talked to us about the training of young skiers – what will be the impact of the Youth Olympic Games on this?
Hosting the world's best youngsters in alpine sports here is a huge opportunity for us to position ourselves as a training centre for the learning of winter sports amongst young people. The Games have already accelerated discussions around the creation of a performance centre and the upgrading of our training track.
The national ski federation, Swiss Ski, has already announced that Les Diablerets will once again become a training centre in Romandie. This, in addition to the fact that we will once again have a track in line with FIS standards, allows us to envisage the return of high-level competitions to the resort for years to come, inspiring the next generation. In fact, we will organise our first international FIS races in 2018 and European Super G Cups are already planned for 2018 and 2019. This offers great visibility that will continue well beyond the Games.
A delegation of the Diablerets recently visited Prémanon, in neighbouring France, another host site of Lausanne 2020. What were the reasons behind this visit?
Absolutely. The idea behind the visit was for us to understand how our French neighbours are preparing to host the event. The site of Prémanon is the French national centre for Nordic skiing, so there is a lot that we can learn from them both in terms of hosting competitions and running our own training centre. But this first visit not only allowed us to learn, but also to create friendships and a platform for future collaboration that will be very useful before, during and after the Games.