With only days left until the host city is announced for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games 2018, the SNCF, French railway company and official supporter of Annecy 2018, has renewed its support for the bid - from the mountains, with the athletes and for the future - by sending an expedition of SNCF athletes to climb Mont-Blanc on 18th – 19th June 2011. The expedition will also include representatives from Annecy 2018.
Guided by members of the French Skiing and Mountaineering School (ENSA) and the company of guides from the cities of Chamonix and Saint-Gervais, the expedition will include three snowboarders from the SNCF – Paul-Henri De Le Rue (Olympic medal winner), Xavier De Le Rue (several-times world champion) and Sylvain Dufour (world medal winner), as well as cyclist Cathy Moncassin-Prime, Annecy 2018 CEO Charles Beigbeder, Mayor of Annecy and former SNCF athlete Jean-Luc Rigaut, and two employees from the SNCF.
Beigbeder and Jean-Luc Rigaut are using the trip as a planning session ahead of the final presentation in Durban.
After two days of high altitude preparation and acclimatisation, the team will set off on Saturday 18 June to climb Mont-Blanc. Once they reach the summit, which is the highest peak in France and Europe, the team will unfold a banner in support of Annecy 2018. The three SNCF champions will then snowboard back down Mont-Blanc, while the others will return on foot.
A corporate citizen with a commitment to sport, the SNCF has supported the French sporting movement since 1982 when it recruited its first athlete on a professional integration contract. With a keen interest in the sporting world, with which it shares common values, the SNCF offered its support for Annecy 2018 in its bid to host the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2018. The host city will be announced by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) on 6 July 2011 in Durban, South Africa. In the meantime, the SNCF and its athletes will show their support for Annecy 2018 at an altitude of precisely 4,810 metres.
The expedition will officially set off when the athletes board the train at Paris’ Gare de Lyon station in the morning on Wed 15 June 2011. On the train that will take the team first to Lyon, and then on to Chamonix, a communication drive will be launched including autographs signed by the athletes and handouts of goodies. Passengers will have the chance to meet the athletes and talk to them about the adventure they are about to embark on.
In 1982, SNCF led the way by recruiting its first high-level athlete on a Professional Integration Contract (CIP in French). The contract is an innovative way to support the sporting careers of its champions. An agreement was drawn up between the SNCF and the French Ministry of Sports. Since then, more than 200 athletes have been trained and supported by the SNCF. Currently 29 French athletes benefit from the SNCF Athletes program, including snowboarders Paul-Henri and Xavier De Le Rue, gymnast Thomas Bouhail and foil fencer Brice Guyart.
Annecy is bidding with Munich and PyeongChang, for the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. The election of the host city will take place on 6th July during the 123rd IOC Session in Durban, South Africa.
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