Yann Guyader : Change of Course for 2012
Hello Yann. The 2011 Season is over and you’re turning a page in your sports career, can you assess your stay at Powerslide’s?
My partnership with Powerslide has definitely influenced my career as I won most of my victories under the colors of this brand. These 6 years of collaboration are really positive in the end. When I joined Powerslide, the brand didn’t have the reputation it has today: it was the very beginning of that fast and virtuous development which enabled it to be the leader on the world market of speed skating today.
I contributed a lot to Powerslide’s fame: more that 80% of Powerslide’s great victories today have been won by me.
In return, Powerslide offered me an unfailing support all through these 6 years, enabling me to take part in the greatest races in the world, in excellent conditions with competitive equipment and smoothly run logistics. We created a real spirit of synergy together. As time went by, I was establishing my reputation in the world while Powerslide was growing on the world market. Thanks to this, we constantly improved together in every domain until today.
It was a very positive relationship for the both of us. I thank Powerslide and hope they also appreciated this collaboration.
Ending up a contract doesn’t mean ending up a career: What are your plans for 2012?
This was an inevitable stage for me: after 6 years of collaboration, the professional relationship starts to deteriorate, for both parts. We needed something new not to fall into the scheme of relationships which become less and less productive and virtuous with time, ending up with some kind of contentment and a certain regression. Still I’m closer to the end than to the beginning of my career. It was important that I found a new partner with a new vision of the sport, a partner with a lot at stakes… just like Powerslide 6 years ago when I started working with them. I like the Idea of working on a sound and motivating project, humanely as well as professionally speaking. I want to collaborate with concerned and competent persons, who motivate me to keep on with my career at a time when I’m still very competitive and able to win at the highest level.
As for sports, the plans are the same as last years’: trying to win as many races as possible to expand my record of achievements. I want to open EO Skates’ victories to the world scene, even if Nicolas Pelloquin already partially took care of that with merits. The big objective is to make EO Skates win at the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hr., but also to win classics like the 3 Tracks international trophy.
I’d like to try to beat the hour record too… but you need a consequent budget for that. The circuit has to be approved by the FIRS, you have to make international judges come, get an anemometer for the record to be officially recognized, etc. And more sponsors will be needed for the event to take place… I already have contacts with great brands evolving off the beaten tracks.
The last phase of the sports project will be to establish myself once more in Indoor in the USA to prove that my victory this year was not a stroke of luck. By the way there is a project in Las Vegas in March which could be interesting.
Last but not least, the last facet is commercial: I have to promote EO Skates at a world level. I also want to work on the distribution of EO Skate products in Columbia. It’s probably the biggest market in the world. Cecilia (Baena) and I have a strong influence there. We hope that it will be a commercial success for EO Skates. Let’s not lie to ourselves, commercial success is imperative!
What are you looking for in joining EO Skates?
Lots of things… First of all, something fresh and new. The plan to join EO Skates is not yesterday’s news. Indeed, last April during the Kriterium of Gross-Gerau, while I had done a faultless performance since the beginning of the season, imposing myself in Columbia, USA, at the FIC in Lilles (Fra), at the French marathon and the semi-marathon of Berlin, I hurt myself just before the race of the weekend.
I was watching the races when I started to talk with Daniel Busser (whom I didn’t know yet). He was just arriving in the speed skating world. Right away we realized that we were on the same wavelength. Although I was under contract with Powerslide until December 2012, I immediately told him that I wanted to help them and skater under their colors in 2012. Numerous contacts followed during the next 6 months until our agreement, running until November 2013 (first as a skater and why not different things subsequently).
I’m also looking for a project which highlights my abilities beyond simple races. Indeed, since the beginning of our collaboration, I’ve been trying to make EO Skates benefit from my sports experience, from my knowledge of the different world markets, and from my network and my expertise. And I must say I’m starting to like this more and more. I like being part of a global project in which I’m not only a winning machine serving as a commercial stand. The human factor is very important. For this, I’m lucky at EO Skates! Besides, I always say that it’s more interesting to be a top executive in a small business that some employee in a big firm, even if I was more than that for Powerslide.
Last but not least, what I want above all is that EO becomes world #1 as fast as possible on the frame market. According to me, this market has still room for innovative brands with highly technical products. Then, according to the shape things take, why not developing these products with other international partners… I’m going to serve Eric, Fredo and Daniel with my experience and do all my possible for our product to be the most competitive as possible. I will stretch to the max to increase the credibility of the EO Skates frames – which they lack for the moment.
Now that you have skated with the EO frames, what do you think about this kind of frames?
Honestly and without pre-conceived view, it is a revelation! However, I was very skeptical like lots of people at the beginning. I couldn’t resist trying them a little too soon – which cost me a fine from my old sponsor Powerslide, for the record. But when we love, we don’t count the cost, do we?
The EO Skates frames are better than an evolution, they are a revolution. And I have good hopes that lots of other people realize it too. Everything is just better: It’s lighter, more reactive, and very comfy despite what people might think. According to me, they say so because of the noise and the resonance.
According to you, is carbon going to supplant aluminum in the following years?
Let’s just have a look at what happened in cycling 15 years ago. At the beginning everybody was denigrating the carbon cycle frames when they came on the market, saying that they would be uncomfortable and that they would break. Today, everything is carbon on a bike: wheels, bend, frame, spare pieces…
Are our boots made of aluminum? Are Formula 1 made of steel? And what about the helmets of the Formula 1 drivers, what material are they made of? Carbon! Carbon will easily supplant aluminum, and this is going to happen very fast as prices will drop thanks to the increase of the sales. The good point is that EO Skates will remain a leader for long because the conception of a carbon frame is complex. And know-how doesn’t come just by snapping your fingers.
Advantages and Drawbacks?
Just like I was saying, there are lots of advantages: better reactivity, lighter products, better comfort and so on. For the moment I’ve only seen one drawback, or I’d rather say a hindrance… that’s the price! However, I think it’s still reasonable. Although the EO Skates frames are technically superior to the other products on the market, they are still competitive as for the price. But the unknown is a limiting factor when a client has to make a choice.
Could you tell us more about the EO States team for 2012? What will be their role?
As the team is not complete, I can’t really say.
What are your objectives for 2012? The races you want to take part in?
Kicking asses!! Seriously, winning as many races as possible with the 3 Tracks and the 24 Hr. Le Mans as main objectives.
What do you think you can bring to a brand like EO Skates?
As everyone knows I guess, EO Skates doesn’t use my services out of charity or for selling candies on the side of the track. Obviously it is in order to benefit from my image and my world reputation, the idea being to associate the excellence of the product to my results and my reputation to develop EO Skates’.
Besides, I think I can help the guys a lot as for technical feedbacks on their products. I am part of the skaters having developed and tested the most products in the last 10 years. Among the most famous products, there are the Mariani molded boots for which brand I’ve tested all the prototypes since 1999, but also the Icon and Virus frames which I personally developed on the long run, not forgetting all the matter wheels since 2007. I think that this can be a real gain for EO Skates in order not to go round in circles as for the conception of new products.
A last word to conclude?
Thanks to Fredo, Eric and Daniel to have the guts to get into such an adventure, and to think like me that it can be a success! I hope that people will realize that what we say is true and that they will follow us… But I don’t really doubt that…
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Translated by Chloé Seyres
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