May 11, 2021

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At the head of the next Worlds, Perrine Pelen intends to “revive the taste for skiing”

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A sign of fate after this white season for alpine ski resorts, the new track on which most of the men’s races in Courchevel 2023 will take place has been named L’Éclipse (1). “ It evokes the sun at the top and the shadow of the route in the trees on which the skiers will set off ”, explains Perrine Pelen, 60, patron of one of the three major sporting events that will punctuate 2023 and 2024 on French soil: the World Ski Championships, the Rugby World Cup and the Olympic Games.

Alpine skiing in competition with biathlon

“We will open the ball, and with great responsibility because the model of alpine skiing has been severely impacted by the health crisis. But he will rise again she believes, because people need sport, clean air and the mountains more than ever ”. These Courchevel-Méribel Worlds also have the mission of reviving the interest of the French in alpine skiing competitions, a discipline that is not very environmentally friendly and in competition with biathlon and other less mechanical specialties, such as free-style. The former champion relies in particular on Alexis Pinturault. The leader of the World Cup, double medalist at the Cortina Worlds, was trained like her in Courchevel and, if all goes well, will still be on track for “her” Worlds.

Before becoming the best slalom rider of her generation, Perrine Pelen knew the slopes of the famous Savoy resort well as a child. Her parents, settled in Grenoble, had bought a chalet there for their eight children – Perrine is the 7e. After her retirement from sports in 1986, she left the resort, giving up a course mapped out by her physiotherapy diploma in favor of a career in sports and tourism marketing. A radical change of course, linked to his meeting with the two men who would change his life: Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Killy, bosses of the 1992 Albertville Games, who had entrusted him with the management of the Olympic village.

“A return to the sources”

After the Games, for nearly thirty years, Perrine Pelen worked in tourist and sporting events in Savoie and Haute-Savoie. But “Never in skiing”, she specifies, before adding that the responsibility for the 2023 Worlds is therefore ” back to basics ”, in his sport and his “Heart station”. “After the Worlds I will be 63 years old, I will be able to bow out”, continues this mother of four.

Until then, many challenges stand in its way, including the thorny issue of the environment. The Trois Vallées area, one of the most equipped in the world, is often criticized for its aggressive development policy. This was still the case recently, when a road was drawn in the middle of the mountains, during a passage of the Tour de France. “All the work that we have undertaken is compensated for and we have avoided as much as possible the felling of trees to trace the track”, she defends herself today.

Still 6 million euros to find

There is also a delicate financial equation, given the lack of visibility linked to the pandemic. We still need 6 million euros (ticketing, hospitality, derivative products) to complete the budget of 43 million (2) for an event supposed to project winter tourism in the two Savoys into the future. “Of course, world championships cannot compete with the Olympic Games, but I learned from Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Killy that sport can serve the general interest”, she said before leaving Cortina d’Ampezzo to find her office in Courchevel at the end of February. Located – quite a symbol – at the foot of the 1992 Games jump.

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