Did you know that if Le Grand Bornand were a country rather than a village in France, it would have come 25th in the medal tally of the Sochi Winter Olympics? This area breeds champions, and the locals support them before, during and after their moment of glory. Pictured is the local post office, plastered inside and out with posters. There is literally no space left on the walls and windows between the posters!
One of them features Jonathon Midol. He’s the guy that crashed as he crossed the finish line of the skier cross to take bronze, completing the trilogy of French winners in that race. You’d think that the other two guys featured on the same poster would be the French skiers who won gold and silver in his race, but they’re actually the other medallists from Le Grand Bornand. The non-local French champs don’t feature here. There’s also a poster of Midol all by himself, but it’s missing from the top left corner of the window (the one you can see is on the other side of the window) — perhaps snatched like a popular band’s gig poster would be in London.
Steve Missillier, who one silver in the giant slalom event, is also pictured. Giant slalom is not for the faint-hearted, with the skiers’ bindings having to be super tight to prevent accidental release; if a skier falls, they risk all sorts of leg injuries through their skis not releasing. It’s a hardcore sport.
The poster gaining the most smiles is the one for Ivan Perillat — a local to Saint Jean de Sixt who won bronze in the 4x10km cross-country ski relay. Slightly less hardcore than the skier cross or the giant slalom events for injuries, the endurance needed for such a race is immense. They build them hard around these parts.
Ivan is well loved in St Jean de Sixt. The monthly council newsletter went into colour for the first time especially in his honour, with the entire front page devoted to celebrating his Olympic achievement.
There have been public and private celebrations for each of the champions, and there will be more. There’s a big emphasis on winter sports here from a very early age, and with so much support for the current and future champions, the wins are likely to continue.