Two days after Crans-Montana was chosen to host the 2027 Alpine World Ski Championships, Marius Robyr is still on cloud nine. The executive director of the bid looks back on the moment of the verdict, and also on the long road to obtaining these World Championships.
Being awarded the Championships is the crowning glory after many years of work to make Crans-Montana the new world centre for this celebration of skiing, forty years after the extraordinary 1987 World Championships. From Crans-Montana’s return to the World Cup circuit in 2008 to this election, the resort and its protagonists have been working hard.
Marius Robyr, you literally jumped out of your chair when Crans-Montana was chosen to host the 2027 World Ski Championships. What a feeling!
It was a very powerful moment, I was very moved. I know the amount of work we put into presenting a quality dossier. And it was that last moment, when the FIS President (editor's note: Johan Eliasch) took three or four seconds before announcing the name of the organising resort... It was that moment, I can't describe it, that made me jump for joy and shed a few tears.
It’s even more special because before the vote, no one really knew if Crans-Montana would be chosen over the other candidates.
We knew that we were highly rated, that the dossier as well as the newsletters we’d sent out had been much appreciated. Everything had gone perfectly in front of the experts, and we’d also done a good job of lobbying. If someone had told me before the vote that we would win in the first round (editor's note: Crans-Montana obtained 11 votes, against 3 for Andorra and Narvik, and 1 for Garmisch-Partenkirchen), I would never have believed it. Now I can see that those who voted for us kept their promises.
The Crans-Montana 2027 bid film was widely acclaimed, with notable support from two-time Olympic champion Michelle Gisin.
Michelle is such an extraordinary girl who has done us an extraordinary favour. Someone who saw the film said to me that we hit the nail on the head, because Michelle brings so much to the table with her smile, her kindness, everything.I would be the first to say that if she’s no longer competing in 2027, she should be on the organising committee.
The video also featured a certain Roger Federer.
To have Roger Federer at the end, symbolically calling Michelle and asking her how it was going, was wonderful. It was a big hit.
Is this the greatest success of your career as a sports organiser?
Yes, it is. Because we fought. It wasn't easy. In 2008, we had to fight to get the World Cup races back. At first, we organised them every other year. Then we fought to get them every year and to make them into a classic. We fought to get the men’s races in 2012. The super-G was amazing, and I know the men would love to return. Then the big goal was to host the World Championships. We set our sights on 2025, knowing full well that we had no chance if we were up against Saalbach-Hinterglemm when presenting for the first time, even though we had a very good bid dossier. 2027 was the landmark year. The only solution was to secure the Championships 40 years after the 1987 event.
What was the driving force behind your quest for the World Championships?
Two things. Firstly, I experienced these World Championships in 1987 as a young organiser, and I have so many extraordinary memories from this time. For two weeks, the atmosphere was fantastic and on the last day we were all crying like kids because it was over. We had the opportunity to experience this, and I now hope that young people in Crans-Montana and Valais also have this opportunity. Secondly, I love the resort and the canton so much that it was important to have a big event to unite the whole population again, to bring infrastructure up to date, and to be able to hold a quality World Championships event. We promised it in the dossier and now we have to do it. It’ll be a boost for everyone.
How can you explain the fact that Crans-Montana experienced a slump after the 1987 World Championships?
The 1987 World Championships were an incredible success in terms of organisation and sport. And afterwards, I have the impression that we ended up resting on our laurels. Crans-Montana was well-known all over the world, the clients were coming... we let things go. We realised that we were no longer in line with the organisation of ski competitions. When the FIS came to see the slopes when we resumed the World Cup races, they laughed in my face, explaining that it wasn’t 1987 any more. Now it's all about carving... We made a mistake there, and we should have continued. We’d thought that our success would just continue, but everything happens extremely quickly and we had to start again from scratch.
Was it important to you to relaunch competition skiing in Crans-Montana?
Absolutely. When the communes asked me to take over the organisation, I set two conditions. The first was to have a free hand. The second was to present only the budget and the accounts. And I take my hat off to them, because we had meetings about rebuilding the Nationale piste, with millions to rebuild the women’s piste, and the municipalities were always behind us. It’s a pleasure to see that people support you
What are you most proud of in this project?
I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve never heard anyone on the Haut-Plateau say: "We don't want the World Championships". Some people were sceptical, but never against it. Through this project, we’ve managed to gather and unite the population again, everyone is pulling in the same direction. Then we managed to bring the municipalities, the ski lifts, the hoteliers together, and for me this is fundamental. This union will be the strength of the World Championships.
The slopes are now ready. All that's missing is the modern, multifunctional stadium promised in the bid file...
There aren’t 50,000 different variants. There’s only one and building needs to start quickly. Five years goes by very, very quickly. All it takes is one or two oppositions. For my part, I'm going to push hard for the stadium to be put out to public enquiry before the end of the year. At least the part that concerns the stadium. We’re going to have to discuss with people in the area so that there is no opposition. We know full well that if there is any opposition, we face two years of procedures and no progress. We have to present the project to the people, listen to them, accept their remarks, and see how we can settle any concerns to avoid any opposition. But we have to move forward very quickly now.Video (in French only): SkiActu