TRANSITIONS

Gwendal Peizerat: On the Olympic Trail

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Laetitia Meriguet
Gwendal Peizerat

Gwendal Peizerat has a lot on his plate these days. He is the CEO of Soléus, which manages sports equipment facilities in France, and is also vice president of the Sports Commission of the Rhône-Alpes Regional Assembly.

“I enjoy giving back what the sport has given to me,” the 2002 Olympic ice dance champion said. “I believe I can help Annecy’s bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics.”

Two other major figure skating stars are also supporting their nation’s bids for the 2018 Games: Katarina Witt (Germany) and Yu-Na Kim (Korea).

“We do not exactly play the same role in our respective committees,” Peizerat explained. “Katarina is the most visible face as the president of the Munich bid, whereas Yu-Na is an ambassador for PyeongChang. It is interesting that figure skating is playing a key role in all three bids. Our sport is a marquee one in the Olympic program. Look for example at the impact our medals had in our respective countries.”

Peizerat said other commitments prohibited him from taking on the role of president for the French bid. “I am too busy with my other activities and I think that role is for an entrepreneur,” he added. “That’s why Annecy chose Charles Beigbeder, a successful French businessman. My function allows me to be a member of the Executive Board because of my position with the Regional Assembly.”

As vice president of Club 2018, Peizerat’s role is to mobilize economic energies. So far, more than 1,000 corporations have committed between 200 and 100,000 Euros to support the bid.

In 2009 Peizerat threw his support behind the Grenoble bid, but when that city was defeated by Annecy he switched gears. “As many former champions who are serving as ambassadors, I am actively promoting Annecy at different events,” Peizerat explained. “I was in Paris for Trophée Eric Bompard, and in Bern for Europeans.

“I have also attended other events, such as the World Ski Cup in Chamonix in January and the SportAccord Convention in London in April, where all three bidding nations made presentations. All of us were acting as lobbyists.”

Peizerat was actively involved in the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Evaluation Commission site visit in February. “It was so important that all of us had some media training,” he acknowledged. “I spoke on three major discussion themes: site, sports and transportation.

“During one of our site visits, I played guitar for the IOC members and transformed the lyrics of the famous Eagles song ‘Hotel California’ into ‘Welcome the Olympic Flame.’ It was so popular that I was asked to perform it again but for the media,” he added with a laugh. The performance was recorded and can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9BFTrgCK_M.

He will be in Durban, South Africa in July for the official announcement of the winning city. If the French bid is successful, it will be the fourth time that nation has hosted the Olympic Winter Games (Chamonix in 1924, Grenoble in 1968 and Albertville in 1992).

Peizerat, 39, still finds time to perform with his longtime dance partner, Marina Anissina. “There is no stress anymore. Marina is busy raising her two children, but when we get a chance to see each other and train, we do it with pleasure,” he said. “We do routines that are crowd favorites. We sincerely hope that very soon we will get the chance to perform in front of our Japanese fans who have suffered so much.”


Originally published in June 2011

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