Former freestyle skiing star Virginie Faivre has been part of the Lausanne 2020 project from the candidature phase. Today, she is the President of the Organising Committee for the 3rd Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG), which will be held in less than a year in the Olympic Capital, as well as in other parts of Switzerland and the French Jura. The YOG are an event for, by and with young people.
What is your vision for next year’s YOG?
"We have clear objectives: first, to engage with young people; to develop talent to encourage young people to practise sport. These Games also need to be “smart” with sustainable infrastructure, for example the speed skating competitions, which will be held at a natural venue on a frozen lake in St Moritz. We’re creating synergies. Closer links are being built with the Canton of Valais at cultural and sporting level; we’re working together.
We’re also working in partnership with France to be able to use existing facilities in Prémanon in Jura and ensure that, after the YOG, Switzerland’s future generations of Nordic skiers can go and train there. We don’t have a ski jump in French-speaking Switzerland, but there is one at the Stade des Tuffes in Prémanon, and our teams will be able to make use of it for the next 10 years. These are key focus areas for us. Being able to share Olympic facilities is essential. I first discovered them when I was an athlete, and now we are going to introduce young people to them."
You’ve been a part of the Lausanne 2020 project from the start…
"I have. I was lucky enough to be in a position to help prepare the candidature file, offer my skills and perspective as an athlete, and assist with this whole construction process, this vision, this strategy for hosting the Youth Olympic Games in our country, in Switzerland."
What did you learn from the late Patrick Baumann?
"It was an honour to have had the opportunity to work alongside him. I was able to draw on his experience – he did an enormous amount for the candidature. He then continued to take the project forward and did so much for the event’s organisation. It was a real honour to learn so much from working with him; it was a remarkable experience."
Do you think it’s important that the YOG Organising Committee has a female president?
"I think it’s a very powerful message. It brings a different perspective, a complementary one. There are a lot of men on our Executive Committee, so providing a female touch is an asset and builds up positive momentum for these YOG."
What would you say are the success factors for Lausanne 2020?
"Engaging with young people. These YOG are made for young people and by young people. It’s about nurturing and developing new talent. The competitive-sport aspect is one of our priorities. What we have to do is support these young athletes, who are just starting out, and give them the tools they’ll need for their future careers. And for the others, away from competitions, many other things can be done.
A large number of jobs exist in the sports sector, which is why it’s important to develop and hone the skills acquired over a sporting career so that these can be put back into the sports movement at all levels: coaches, doctors, managers, leaders, etc. We have to demonstrate the merits of all these sports-based jobs. Promoting sport among young people is also a central objective, whether they are future athletes or future fans, whether it’s for elite sport or amateur sport – what matters is promoting sport for future generations."