Make way for urban culture. And, for the first time, to an additional sport. After rowing (Pascale Bouron), table tennis (Gille de La Bourdonnaye) and swimming (Sarah Mehammedia), FrancsJeux turns to two disciplines that will take over the Place de la Concorde at the Paris 2024 Games. The series dedicated to the sport managers of the organising committee continues with Stéphane Larance (photo above), in charge of skateboarding and BMX freestyle.
FrancsJeux: What was your life like before the Paris 2024 OCOG?
Stéphane Larance: Before joining the OCOG Paris 2024, I was a graphic designer for the TF1 group. But I spent more than thirty years in the skateboarding world, as a professional skateboarder, then as a team manager and consultant, for brands and sports events. At a certain point, I wanted to change my horizon and discover something else. I had a degree in graphic arts. I reactivated it to become a graphic designer. I was self-employed for two years, then worked for TF1 for eight years. At the same time, I remained very close to the skateboarding world, notably by becoming an international judge.
Your past experience of the Olympic Games?
It goes back to the Tokyo 2020 Games, where I was a judge for the skateboarding competitions, appointed by the international federation (World Skate) for the street events. I discovered Japan. The experience was all the more complete because I was also working for TF1. I was able to combine the two activities.
What do you remember most about the Games?
Tokyo 2020, too. The unique atmosphere of the events, in front of empty stands. In the skateboarding world, we are used to a real warmth from the public. Here, it was the opposite. I was also struck by the very special pressure that participants in the Olympic Games feel. Not only the athletes. I thought I knew this pressure from my experience as a judge in the qualifying rounds. But at the Games, it is much greater. I realised this the day before the first event. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t sleep! But this very unusual pressure disappeared as soon as the competition started.
The top file on your desk?
The legacy of the Games in the Paris region, especially for the skatepark that we will use for the Olympic events. There is a lot of pressure from the skateboarding community about what will happen to the facility after the Games. As a Parisian myself, I am aware of the lack of high-level skateparks in the capital and its suburbs. The second life of this facility is not only a challenge, but also a mission that was entrusted to me when I arrived as sports manager. We are going to rebuild the skatepark somewhere in the Paris region. I have to find the best solution for this.
The skateboard and BMX freestyle competition site on the Place de la Concorde: its assets, the challenges in the perspective of the Games?
We are extremely lucky to have the Place de la Concorde at our disposal. We will share the site with 3×3 basketball and breaking. Of course, we will have it available quite late. But we want to make it a welcoming, festive and lively space, an urban park with activities, demonstrations and introductions to the disciplines. The challenge will be to attract a maximum number of people from the urban sports community. They do not necessarily want to come to the Olympic Games.
Paris 2024 will be a success for skateboarding and BMX freestyle if…
If the athletes are surprised and happy when they discover the competition site. We really want to be creative to offer them something unique. I would like them to leave at the end of the event happy and proud to have participated in the Paris 2024 Games. The same goes for the spectators and for all the members of the urban sports community. We will have succeeded if we offer an event that meets their expectations, while keeping the spirit of urban sports intact.