Interview parue sur feu le site Annecy-Infosports le 13 novembre 2010
Propos recueillis par Kate Royan ©
Today we meet Nicolas Beaudelin, Communication Officer for the F.F.S.G. (French Federation for Ice Sports)
A Grand Prix isn’t only skaters, judges and an audience. It’s a also a whole organization, people working backstage, people whose voice is seldom heard. Yet, without them, there would be no Grand Prix, nor any other competition. Annecy-Infosports has chosen to talk to Nicolas Beaudelin.
- Can you tell us about your career ? How do you go from international competitive skater to Communication Officer for the F.F.S.G. ?
I put an end to my competitive career after the 2004 Elite National Championships in Rennes. I was constantly injured. When your body tells you to stop, you’d better be realistic, insisting is useless. In addition to my career, I had continued studying via the CNED [distance education] and obtained a « B.T.S. Communication des Entreprises » [Advanced Vocational diploma in Business Communications]. I am Parisian of origin, I skated in Champigny from 1987 to 2000, and in Annecy from 2000 to 2007. Then I have had the chance to go on courses in this region. I went on a training course at the editorial office of TV8 Mont Blanc. All went well and I was offered to direct a bimonthly magazine on figure skating, called « Triple Saut » [Triple Jump]. It was a 13 minutes format, it was cool and a good promotion for the sport. I was a freelancer for [regional newspaper] Dauphiné Libéré. Then, I heard that the French Federation was looking for someone. It was at a moment of my life when I had choices to make. My parents and my family lived in Paris, it was also the opportunity for me to come back to them.
- You are also a technical specialist.
Yes, I was until last year. Now I’m no longer in practice because my work with the Federation takes all of my time, it is very complicated. But I am still part of the Figure Skating Committee of the Rhône-Alpes League. I think it is important for former competitors to remain in the field…
- For you, when does Eric Bompard Trophy really start ?
When one is over, next is already starting… The pace is quickening when we acquaint ourselves with the list of participants named by the Management Commission of Grand Prix. We do not yet
have exact dates for next year. But every year, I have this little notebook and I write down every single thing that has to be improved. In fact, we are constantly working to ameliorate this
Trophy and for you, journalists. We are wholeheartedly into it from June on. My role is really broad. It goes from contacting the Press Managers to the organization of compulsory press
conferences with skaters, individual interviews, preparation of the necessary documents and the handling of all the additional requests. For instance, the Japanese like to have only one
interlocutor. If there is a problem with electricity, air-conditioning, a technical detail to settle, they come to me. We have to take care of everything. I am also in charge of the coordination
with TVs. From September to the date of the Trophy, we have coordination and location meetings here in Bercy. I am also in charge of the promoting, I negotiate with our media
partners, I organize the official press conference for the presentation of the event…
- The 2012 World Championships will be held in Nice (France) ? How will you be involved ?
I don’t know yet, it has not yet been decided. I am thinking about it, we must be able to anticipate. I haven’t yet lived such an event from the inside. I lived it from the outside, as a journalist, at the Vancouver Olympic Games, and it was gigantic. By comparison, the organization of a Grand Prix seems easy. I assume that a world championship is something in between, i.e. huge. It means approximately 300 journalists, without taking TVs and technicians into account… But it is a wonderful challenge, it makes me want to be already there.
- What do you say if someone tells you that FFSG has poor communication ?
That we are in a democracy and that everybody has the right to criticize (laughs). Nothing is ever perfect. We are doing our best. But it is extremely difficult to manage the communication of 10 different disciplines, 8 of them being Olympic disciplines. In November and December only, we have not less than 4 World Cups in different fields, all held on the same week-end. To which you can add several other events. All that must be managed simultaneously, we have to communicate on all that all at once. It is very complicated. Fede-Infos only, the F.F.S.G. magazine, means that 15 pages every month have to be written, arranged and edited. With my colleague, Anthony Baron, creator and computer graphic specialist, who is the webmaster of our Internet site, we try to do our very best. We are currently considering a rebuilding of the website. We know that nothing is perfect, that there are many gaps to be filled. But we are constantly looking for new ideas. We are, more particularly, going to work on communication with the clubs. Today, it is more and more difficult for them to communicate. From January on, the Federation is going to look into this.
It is very difficult to explain what we do every day, it is a laborious task, like the work of invisible ants. Our working days are very long. The position was already existing before I was hired, but it was essentially occupied by trainees and probationers. I have had to rebuild everything. I think a lot has been done in three years. There was no more communication with the journalists, they were not calling the office anymore, they were on their own. Now, they are back, everybody is back. We are starting to have a nice group of journalists following figure skating and we are really communicating. For instance, in Speed Skating 15 days ago, I managed to get Alexis Contin (4th at Vancouver Olympic Games) an interview during the 8.00 p.m. news on TF1. The day before yesterday, it was Brian Joubert’s turn on the same channel. Friday, Florent Amadio was scheduled on the news on France 2, but it was postponed due to other important events.
- Are the media in demand or do you have to go and knock at their door ?
These days, it is both. Which shows the progress that has been made. But if we want to be heard, we have to knock at their doors to discuss possible reports on all our disciplines. One must really remember that ice sports are not figure skating only. We are not football [soccer], nor tennis, nor rugby. We do what we can with our own means, we try to break new ground. We spend a lot of time observing, we listen to critics. People must not think that we don’t hear [what they say]. We are open to discussion. We try to do our best with the means we have right now.