That’s the name given to an association of companies operating in the area of Annecy, the city in the Savoy region of France that has applied to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2018. After five years of lobbying and preparations, they have obtained a commitment by local authorities to annual subsidies of about €300,000 to help develop training programs, conferences and other services intended to attract more companies from the outdoor and winter sports sectors to the region, forming a cluster like that of Montebelluna in Italy.
A total of 54 sports companies have an office in the region already, and some 80 percent of their activities are related to ski and other winter sports. Some, like Salomon, have their headquarters in the area. Others, like Patagonia, have their European hub there.
Jean-Luc Diard, former chief executive of Salomon and current vice president of Tecnica Group, has been elected chairman of the Outdoor Sports Valley. A former top executive of the Rossignol Group, Bernard Liatti, and a current top executive of Salomon, Jean-Marc Pambet, act as vice chairmen along with Alain Vuarnet, son of the famous late French ski champion, who has been placed in charge of international relations.
Other members of the board include Frédéric Ducruet of Millet, Pascal Aymar of Orage, Holger Bismann of Patagonia, Michel Gaillard of Scott, Philippe Gallay of TSL, Olivier Cantet of Rip Curl and Frédéric Basse, president of EuroSima, the European surf industry association, which has managed to form a similar cluster along the Basque coast of France. Rémi Forsans, an industry consultant specializing in freestyle skiing and snowboarding who has worked a lot to set up the association, acts as secretary general.
The promoters of the French Outdoor Valley say that they don’t have European ambitions, at least for the moment. The European Outdoor Group has agreed to lend its support to its activities, which may include the organization of an international forum next October.
The new project was announced last month in connection with the staging of the first rather successful edition of the Annecy Showroom Avant-Première (Asap), a new trade show for the French winter sports apparel market organized by Sportair, the company behind the French Sport-Achât fair in Grenoble.