How will you maximise the impact that the organisation of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Switzerland could have on the development of freeski in our country?
Christoph Perreten (CP), Freestyle Leader, Swiss-Ski : Our objective is to capitalise on the increased visibility the YOG will provide to promote freeski in the long run. We put a particular emphasis on projects aimed at engaging young talents. For several years now, we have successfully organised skicross events in Villars – as part of the Audi Skicross Tour – and, since the 2017/18 season, freeski events – as part of the Swiss Freeski Tour – in Leysin, two of the host sites of Lausanne 2020. Our goal is really to inspire as many young people as possible to practice this sport.
Our freeski and skicross concepts are based on three values: breakthrough, passion and participation. Through initiatives such as the Audi Shred Days (freeski and snowboard) or the Skicross Kids Tour, we raise interest and encourage people to get involved. During the national competitions, young skiers from all over Switzerland will have the chance to participate and qualify for the Swiss-Ski team and therefore possibly participate in the YOG. The YOG is an excellent springboard for high-performing athletes to enter the international sport community. But all this is only made possible thanks to the collaboration and great support of our regional and local partners such as Ski Romand and the ski resorts of Villars and Leysin.
What practical elements are being put in place in the region thanks to the YOG that will make a real difference for the future of freeski in Switzerland?
CP : Thanks to the organisational skills that will be acquired through the YOG, the region will have the potential to organise major events on a regular basis. Also in terms of infrastructure, the facilities developed for the YOG will position the Vaud Alps as one of the best regions for freeski and snowboard in Switzerland. For instance, the development of a Big-Air landing bag project in Leysin will play an important role, particularly during training sessions for freestyle sports, and will be accessible throughout the year. Furthermore, the region of Leysin and Villars is located next to the heavily populated Lake Geneva area. Top athletes such as Fanny Smith, Mathilde Gremaud and Sarah Höfflin are from this region and are role models for the new generations to which we will have direct access through the YOG.
How important do you think the Youth Olympic Games can be in a young athlete’s journey to the elite?
CP : Young athletes can gain valuable experience at the YOG for their future careers and for major sporting events. Let’s take Switzerland’s Mathilde Gremaud’s example: she had her first Olympic experience in 2016 in Lillehammer and this year, she won her first Olympic silver in Pyeongchang. The objective of the 2020 YOG in Switzerland should be to inspire a new generation to achieve the same.