What does hosting such a sporting event mean for Bessans?
For Bessans and for Haute-Maurienne Vanoise, who have a long tradition of hosting dog sled sports in France, hosting World Championships is an exceptional opportunity. It is a culmination and a beautiful way to make our territory known. It is also the recognition of the skills of local teams to organize large-scale sports events, as is the case in other disciplines as well.
What is the particularity of the territory of Bessans?
Haute-Maurienne Vanoise has 6 resorts (Aussois, Bessans, Bonneval-sur-Arc, La Norma, Val Cenis and Valfréjus). Of these resorts, Bessans is the only one with a true Nordic vocation, which makes it complementary to others. The resort of Bessans has a Nordic area of 150 km, spread over a wide plateau from the bottom of the Col de la Madeleine to the limit with Bonneval-sur-Arc. At 1750m above sea level, snow is guaranteed from mid-November to mid-April. In addition to cross-country skiing, the area is ideal for various Nordic activities (biathlon, snowshoeing, dog sledding, ski joering …). Bessans also has a small alpine ski area, well exposed to the south, ideal for learning children and a family ski nearby.
Nearly 400 participants, 1500 dogs, a substantial staff, many media … How is the village preparing for a few days before the start of these 18th World Championships?
We have been working for many years on the organization of this great event, in close ties with Dominique Grandjean and the Lekkarod Association teams. The services are mobilized by meetings aimed at treating the various aspects of the event: trails, car parks, accommodation, animations … We make sure that the event is integrated into the life and activity of the village, it is to say that it is beneficial for the inhabitants and the economic actors, while allowing the vacationers present in the station to spend a good week and to benefit from the spectacle.
How long have you been preparing, in relation to the Lekkarod staff, and how did this preparation take place?
We set up an organizing committee by defining different poles relating to the aspects of the organization. Specific meetings were held by poles, sometimes indoors, sometimes on the trails. Beyond that, we held plenary meetings aimed at making complete points on the progress of the organization. As far as Bessans is concerned, the managers of works and trails are obviously involved, and a coordinator has been appointed to liaise with Lekkarod Association. Several elected officials are also very involved in the organization of the Worlds. The exchanges between the various actors are almost daily in recent weeks.
For 5 days, Bessans will showcase the sport of sled on the international level. Does this put some sort of “pressure”?
Of course, there is pressure because hosting World Championships is not trivial. Although we have a long experience of hosting events, especially in the field of sled sports, it is of a much greater magnitude. Bessans remains a family resort on a human scale, a village of 360 inhabitants, and necessarily, the reception of so many people for a week for the event requires a lot of work and professionalism. We work in confidence between the various actors of the organization to make sure everything goes well and leaves everyone with unforgettable memories.
As Mayor, how will you live this event?
I will live this event closer to the field, being with the teams as much as necessary. When we organize such an event, everyone (elected officials, services, volunteers, partners …) must make the effort and move forward together with a great desire to succeed. And of course, I will make myself available for the reception and the relations with the officials who will come to Bessans. I expect long days and short nights, but it will only be happiness if the participants and the public leave satisfied.