Meet Yann PESANDO
Olympic Park Director
May you tell us a bit more about you ?
I have been working for Meribel Tourism for the past 6 months as the Director of the Olympic Park (OP). I was the Director of the ice rink of Angers for 2 years and half before that. However I really wanted to come back to the mountains side because I had the chance to live 10 years in a small chalet in the Chartreuse massif, and I missed it. Then an opportunity appeared... and here I am ! I am from Grenoble where I worked over 10 years, including 7 years in charge of the Alpine Stadium Events, and of the ice rink of Grenoble. I am also the General Secretary of the National Syndicate of Ice Rinks. So I knew a little about the work environment here and I'm also familiar witg the former Olympic Park director (until 2011) Rémi Boelher who is a friend.
How is your work going at the Olympic Park ?
It is an exciting job because it is "alive". My days are rythmed to the activity. There are not two similar days, I'm never bored ! We also have to adapt constantly to what can happen to us and be ready to face issues. It is a constant regulation, adaptation, and technical monitoring too. There are highly technical jobs here characterized by adaptability. We manage technical spaces, ultra technological equipments and also welcome people. We are Méribel Tourism ambassadors and many people come to get information at the reception.
The inter-season is very interesting to make statement of accounts, project a new organization and undertake new works. We have rearranged all the offices, the swimming pool, the ice rink... This extra work is added to the daily tasks.
The inter-season as the season is intense. You have to be able to meet the challenges of the day ! This is a no limit work, 24/ 7. We are in charge of the technical monitoring for the whole building. It is a profession extremely versatile and exciting. See for instance, night has come and I did not even notice it, but that is what is great !
Can you gives us more details about the Olympic Park ?
It is a 21 000m2 building gathering the useful functionalities for a ski resort of the scale of Méribel, namely: a medical office (open all year round even on Sundays), a center of radiology, a physiotherapy center, a restaurant, a bowling alley, a night-club, two child-care centers (with a capacity of 200 children), kitchens, a climbing wall, the mountain guides’ office, a swimming pool, a fitness center, an ice rink, a conference room (800m2), the kenothèque, the gendarmerie (250m2 of premises) with 30 agents, 20 municipal police officers who are permanently housed in the building, an underground parking, the gym for the clubs etc. There is also the ski club premise with the waxing room (250m2).
This group of institutions can accommodate up to 4500 people instantaneously on all the volume. It is a big beautiful boat even though we do not manage everything. On the first hand, operators take care of the bowling alley, the night-club, the restaurant and the doctor's office. On the other hand, the entire building is under my responsibility from a safety point of view. It presents a significant level of risk due to its size so we have restrictive fire regulations.
The Olympic Park is also a crossing point with about ten thousand people per year. Many people come for the climbing wall, others take information, some get lost... The building lives all year round for the clubs because there is no need at the moment for the public to open it during the inter-season.
We also have one of the 12 biggest ice rinks in France: 1800m2 and 12m high ! This allows us to do what we want, like the New Year's Eve Party or the 3rd biggest Christmas Mass in France. I come from the ice rink world and to me, Méribel is one of the most beautiful ice rink in France, and I know what I'm talking about because I know them all. In the same way, the swimming pool has a wonderful aquatic equipment with a toboggan and a real 25m sport pool. There are only few resorts that offer all of this in one single place !
For the historic side, the Olympic Park was built in 1990 for the 1992 Winter Games where the men's ice hockey games took place. At that time the ice rink had 9000 seats. Today no ice-rink in France has so many seats, it was not really coherent for Méribel to keep this capacity so we created receptive spaces, conference rooms, a bowling alley, a night club, a swimming pool and then all the extension of the gallery in 1995 with the panoramic elevator. Thereafter in 2009 the spa and the fitness were created.
"In Méribel we are lucky to have this equipment located at the heart of the resort, neighboring the gathering of the skiers and the customers of the Valley. In addition the footbridge gives us a privileged location."
Can you talk about the new Olympic Park activities ?
I decided to focus on the public's offers; especially during evenings as there is a need beyond the usual afternoon offer for those who do not ski or who are coming back from it around 16h-17h. During the school holidays we set up theme's parties: at the swimming pool on Tuesdays evening and, at the ice rink on Thursdays evening from 20h to 22h (electro, zumba, zen party...). We thematise several evenings, sometimes around the discovery, from an educational initiation side, or around something more festive like a foam party at the ice rink. All of that is done on other ice rinks in France, so we can do it also here. Even though we do not have the same type of public I think we can still attract customers and position ourselves for an après-ski offer.
We chose to strengthen the family dimension, and all of our offers are more or less family-oriented. Thus on Wednesdays, there is a spa family offer in the early afternoon. We also bought toys so that the children can have fun while the mom is getting massaged. We developed also our family offers at the ice rink and at the pool with the Family Offer & the Ice. An investment was made in educational materials that did not exist before at the ice rink. This was in order to attract customers who are not accustomed to this practice and to ensure that when people come, it is not experienced as a stressful time but moments of pleasure and sharing.
For the pool it's slightly different, because everyone theoretically knows how to swim. However this year we have set up introductory and advanced courses at the pool, with different levels of progressivity. As in town or elsewhere, we position ourselves on a school offer. We learn how to swim and especially to "save oneself" that is to say, to be safe in the water. Nevertheless after a cycle of 7 sessions we only know how to get out of the "phobia of water". That is why we come with what municipal swimming schools do in the large municipalities: learn the first swimstroke - and not the one you can find in a club, which has more a competition aim. We wanted to offer a practice of swimming more in a educational, pedagogical and autonomous way for the child or the adult with different levels. This is a new activity that I found essential.
Also, we will position ourselves on our ability to host top athletes for training, figure skating, or big hockey clubs. The OP has everything they need: fitness, spa, warm-up space... we are sized for it ! Plus, we have the benefits of the altitude. I was a physical trainer in my first job, so this energetic and physiological dimension of training speaks to me. I would like to work on this high level sport issue.
What do you prefer at the Olympic Park ?
I like the view you have when you're on the spiral staircase. At this point when you go up to the first floor, on one side you see the skaters, on the other the swimmers and you even see la Chaudanne on the background. From an architectural point of view it's a success, at this place you can see the whole building. It is a very beautiful vector of communication and it makes you want to go on both sides ! I love this spot and I would like to make it more meaningful. This gallery is not simply a crossing point.
What would you say to people who don't know your structure ?
First of all it is a family place but also a place for groups of friends who come together to share a moment of conviviality, relaxation, and pleasure. People are coming to share all together. We obviously have individuals too who come to do water lines at the pool or to enjoy a massage by themselves. The Olympic Park responds to this social demand of sharing. Here's how I could symbolize it.
We answer clearly to the demand of people who live here, who are glad to go to the pool after work, to go to the gym, or to skate with their family. We are also there to meet the seasonnaires' needs with attractive prices, and to residents with resident prices. We see this social utility because we are more accessible than a spa or a swimming pool of a prestigious hotel.
Today people are coming to Meribel because it is the 3 Valleys ski area, which means royal skiing, landscapes' beauty, a certain kind of architecture etc. I would like vacationers to know that even though there is no snow or if it rains for a week, they can always seek refuge here, whatever the weather !