Yann Guyader: Homestretch
Back on the career of one of the most qualified title holders of France…
Hello Yann, it seems that it is your last year on skates. What conduces you to hang up at the end of 2013?
It is the accumulation of several small things which led me to take that wise decision. The initial idea was to stop after my comeback in the French Team in 2011, but Daniel Busser and Fred Ostrowski (EOSkates) offered me a great challenge which I wanted to take up by their sides. Now has come the time to think of something else… Without pretension, I think I have got as far as one can. I have won almost everything that was possible to be won, and I have grown weary for several seasons already. I want to remain true to my values and I do not want to overdo. I want to retire in trying to still be at the top.
What do you expect from that last season?
The aim will obviously to keep on winning as many races as possible. I am not on early retirement. I am still very active and I keep on training as I should. I will try to enjoy skating, which has not always been the case during my career: I was much more obsessed by winning. I also want to realize how privileged I am to lead the life I lead, even if I did not get anything for free. I have the luck to have quite a unique life and situation in the world of skating, because I gave myself the means to be an icon in this sport, but I must admit that despite all the constraints linked to high performance sport, that life is great. I have the luck to travel everywhere in the world, meet people from every horizon, be admired by numerous fans around the world… could be worse!
What did you change in you training along the years?
The content and the intensity did not change much as for the skating part… But with the years, especially during the 3-4 last years when I went to Columbia, I diversified a lot my off-skates trainings. I did a lot of cycling and workout when I wash in Bogota (Columbia). And this year, although I slowed down the cycling part, I did a lot of running outside stadiums in order to improve my MAS (Maximum Aerobic Speed)… and avoid the dreariness that settles down when you skate too much. I created the want of being on my skates in trying not to touch them too much during the winter period.
What are the races you would like to win?
I do not have preferences, even if the marathon at the World Championships would be a great way to close a carrier that was rich in victories… But there is little hope that I will be on the start line for various reasons. Moreover I still have, stuck in a corner of my head, the attempt of the hours record I would like to break before I retire.
What about that project of hour record?
Indeed, that is why I talk about it above. But the project is quite complicated to finalize. A lot of money is needed and for the moment, it is not easy to find partners, especially because the attempt would take place in Columbia. To be continued…
What are the key moments that marked out your career? Good and less good…
I think that everything started in 2003 with my accident in Engadin (bi-malleolus fracture after a fall). That bad memory at first will yet have conditioned my career so in the end, this would have been a positive thing.
I do not have that many bad memories. Let's say two: the loss of two world titles which were welcoming me with open arms until the last lap in Yeosu and Cali during the point track race… but is it such a big deal?
The best memories are numerous and remain engraved in my mind. To cite just a few, my victory during the WIC of Engadin in 2006 during the great age of skating, the same competition where I had fallen 3 years before.
There is also that victory during the relay at the World Championships of Anyang (with Julien Despaux and Thomas Boucher) or that of the marathon of the European Championships in Zwolle.
The NSC indoor races are also very good memories, just as the championships in Columbia. The atmosphere is awesome and so different from here, there is a lot of fighting in the pack, skaters elbowing their way out!
These are as many great memories thanks to which I will keep a great memory of these whole 20 years spent on the tracks.
You are part of the rare skaters who managed to earn a living with skating. Is it still possible to live on that passion?
Honestly it is not! The market is not what it used to be. Winning races is not enough anymore, you also have to create a character, show charisma, which reduces opportunities a lot. The time of Massimiliano Presti, Luca Saggiorato, Francesco Zangarini, Diego Rosero, Jorge Botero, Pascal Briand and friends is past and gone…
You progressively shifted from athlete to promoter with your arrival at EOSkates'. What is the next episode with the French firm of carbon frames?
Indeed, more than a simple skater I am above all an ambassador of the brand. The words may seem a bit pompous but it is what it is. The idea remains the same: proving that we make the best frames in the world! And I think that there is not even the shadow of a doubt about it… Just take a look at the helter-skelter of the competition trying to produce carbon frames, that same competition who said not so long ago that it was useless… Facts speak for themselves.
The Venezuelan federation asked you to train its national team. Can you tell us more?
Indeed, I take off very soon for Caracas to meet the managers of the Venezuelan Federation of Roller Sports and those of the Sports Department. We will keep on negotiating and finalize the contract according to the commitments I have with EOSkates until the end of the year.
I have been talking with Fabian Arcila, the president of the federation and former world champion, for three years already to become the national selector. I was very close to an agreement in 2011 when I wanted to stop and lived in Columbia. It took time to put things in place, but now the timing seems to be good. The challenge is very exciting, the skaters are good and there is no language or culture barrier as I know them rather well… It should then be possible to do great things.
One could guess that you had offers from other nations?
Indeed I had other offers but that one only caught my attention for several reasons. I know Fabian well for having raced several times in Venezuela, I also know very well the skaters, with whom I used to train in bogota. Moreover, the culture and weather played a crucial part: I am not leaving for uncharted territory here.
Is the coach position the obvious next step for your future?
Not necessarily as I do not have the vocation to be a coach in the long-term. I do not want to be a selector all my life. However, the challenge and the idea that one day, looking back onto my career I would say to myself that I have known that facet of the sport too, are interesting. The fact that it happens in another country is also a determining factor. I like to say to myself that I have done things that only a few other people had the possibility to do and above all, I love challenges.
Where do you picture yourself in your future professional career?
Far from skating I think. Maybe at first this will be how the transition will unfold… But I know myself too well to know that in the long term I will not stay in the world of skating, even if you should never say never. In their own ways, I think that guys like Franck Cardin and Juan Carlos Betancur are the ones who made the most successful career changes. I see myself pretty well as an entrepreneur… I already have a couple of ideas.
In order to forget nobody, I would like to thank everyone who in a way or another contributed to my sport success.
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