“I will want to do well knowing there will be spectators at the bottom of the slope and also the people in front of their TVs. I’ll have a little more pressure but it is positive, it will push me to push myself and do my best.”
When reigning world champion alpine skiers Marie Bochet and Vincent Gauthier hit the slopes at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games in March, it will not be difficult for their fellow Frenchmen to follow their every swish and swoosh.
In December, French officials announced they will show 60 hours of live coverage from Sochi 2014 on French television. The bright lights will shine on Bochet and Gauthier more than any other French competitors.
As the world champion in the men’s giant slalom and slalom standing events, Gauthier was a silver medallist in the super-G and the super combined and a bronze medallist in the giant slalom standing events at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
Gauthier, recently named France’s flag bearer for the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony on 7 March, could not be happier.
“It is a big improvement for disabled people and I’m happy about that,” said Gauthier. “It’s also a big relief for my supporters; they will be able to watch the races on TV and to know the results immediately.”
France Télévisions is the official broadcaster for France, and NPC Media and Communications Manager Benoit Hetet said the bulk of the coverage will be aired on the network’s main channel, France 4, but France 2 and France 3 channels will also broadcast from Sochi.
He said Alexandre Boyon and Patrick Montel will be the two presenters.
“We will have every day, according to the competition schedule, four to five hours per day,” Hetet said. “It is unprecedented in France, and the opening and closing ceremonies of course. Finally all images are included on the website France TV Sports.”
Both Gauthier, 27, and Bochet, 19, said the success at the London 2012 Paralympics set the table for French Paralympians to receiver more recognition in Sochi.
“I think attitudes are changing in the right direction since the London Paralympic Games,” said Bochet, the reigning world champion five women’s standing events: downhill, slalom, giant slalom, super-G and super combined.
“People are more interested by the Paralympic Movement and its athletes.”
Gauthier added: “There was a real turning point with the London Paralympic Games. People started watching us as professionals. Even in our team we feel this change, the executive staffs are more conscientious and the sponsors and partners are more and more involved.”
Bochet is not surprised that there is an appetite for Paralympic sport in France because winter sports are so huge there, because the French team has excelled since 2011, and because Albertville was the first city to host the Olympics and Paralympics in one venue in 1992.
She said knowing her people are watching back home will add more pressure but in a good way.
“I will want to do well knowing there will be spectators at the bottom of the slope and also the people in front of their TVs,” she said. “I’ll have a little more pressure but it is positive, it will push me to push myself and do my best.
“Several members of my family will travel (to Sochi), but some can’t come to Russia. I think my grandfather, my brother and some of my friends, with television broadcast, will be with me a little.”
Gauthier, on the other hand, is happy his parents will be able to watch him on television since they can’t make the trip to Sochi, but he doesn’t want to think about that too much while he’s racing.
“I don't want to think about them during the race,” he said. “I have to be concentrated.”
But it will be nice to know his parent’s are watching when he carries the French flag during the Opening Ceremony.
“Very touched and proud at the same time,” he wrote about being the flag bearer.
“It’s a big task.”