When a passion becomes a career ~ Passion/Patin/Vitesse - Passion/Speed/Skating


24 avril 2017

When a passion becomes a career

When a passion becomes a career

The journey of Simon Clément, new General Manager of Patinage de Vitesse International de Montréal 

Text: Carl Savard
Pictures: Mohamed Ariba (www.aribamo.com), Catherine LaRoche, Simon Clément and Passion/Speed/Skating

It's at the Mecca of short track speed skating in Canada, the Maurice-Richard Arena, that I sat with Simon Clément to talk about his nomination as General Manager of the Patinage de Vitesse International de Montréal organisation (Montreal International Speed Skating). When we met, Clément was about to leave for Rotterdam, Netherlands to attend the short track speed skating World Championships. His goal was to see how the dutch were doing things this year and ask questions to the ISU comitte on what can and can't be done when organising the World Championships. Why? Because he will be in charge of the 2018 edition that will be held in Montreal next year. While for us at Passion/Speed/Skating this nomination was not a surprise, for Simon Clément, this new chapter of his life didn't seem like an evidence. Clément's nomination was brand new when we met and he didn't have an office yet. That's why we settled in the stands at the arena where the World Championships will take place next year.

Simon Clément was born with an entrepreneur's mindset. At fourteen, he was already managing his first business as a disc jockey. Later, while he was studying computer technology, he co-owned a laundry and dry cleaning establishment. He wanted to learn more about entrepreneurship, how to magage a payroll, negotiation with the suppliers and customer service. As for skating, it's actually inline skating that brought him to the world of speed skating, which is pretty much the opposite of most skaters in Canada. In 2004, he formed a team to participate in the 24H Roller Montreal and totally fell in love with the event. Four years later, he traveled to France to participate in the 24 Heures Rollers du Mans and came back with a profound desire to turn the 24H Rollers Montreal into something bigger and get more people interested in it. The following year, he became general manager of the event and rapidly turned it into what he had in mind, all that while still working full time as an IT security analyst.

After a few years on wheels, Simon Clément is influenced by a member of his inline team to give short track speed skating a try. Clément answered speed skater Jocelyn Bérubé 's challenge and from the get go got hooked to this new sport. He started visiting three diffferent clubs to be able to train four times a week and ended up joining the competition circuit. He even became a coach and still coaches once a week at the Longueuil Speed Skating club. He has always been an active guy, practicing different sports, but for the last eleven years it's through skating in its different forms that he stays active.

His love of speed skating and his role at the helm of the 24H Roller  eventually led him to be in charge of the inline speed skating competition during the Pan-Am Games held in Toronto in July of 2015. The year before, he had the opportunity to be assistant to the General Manager during one of the short track speed skating World Cup  event being competed in Montreal. It's while he was working on the World Cup event that he was approached to be Sports Programming Coordinator for Les Jeux du Québec (Québec's Games) an event taking place every two years where young athletes from all over the province of Quebec gather to compete in different sports. In number of athletes and volunteers, it is as big as the Winter Olympic Games.

After Les Jeux du Québec, Clément felt he needed to meet with a conselour. He had been out of computer security services for some time because of a burn-out, but the plan was always to go back. Life seemed to send him signs that his career might be elsewhere. One thing seemed clear when meeting with the counselor: that's when he was talking about event planning that his eyes would lit up and his smile would rise. So far, every job he  took related to organising competitions were short term contracts and he felt like he always had the opportunity to go back to computer security or any other IT jobs. The challenge he just accepted, by becoming general manager of Patinage de Vitesse International de Montréal, probably means the end of his career in the computer world, but Clément is fine with it. He knows he has found his true calling.

It's pretty much as an outsider that Simon Clément arrives in the event planning circle of the short track speed skating circuit. New blood, fine with keeping proven recipes in place when it make sense, but bring changes to old habits when needed if it can help revive the sport and bring it a step forward. Even though organising the 2018 short track speed skating World Championships may seems like the main part of Simon Clément's new job, his tasks cover a much wider radius. He is in charge of organising international speed skating events whether it's on blades or on wheels. The 24H Rollers Montreal and the 2018 short track speed skating World Championships are already on schedule, but you can count on Simon Clément's passion to bring you much more in years to come. During our meeting, I told him how I felt like speed skating in Canada has been on auto-pilot for too long and needed a shake and his answer was: « I think that's why I'm here. » He knows the old Maurice-Richard Arena, who's turning 55 years old this year, limits his possibilities when it comes to entertainment compared to what's been going on during major events in younger venues in Europe lately, but he is positive that he can bring new ideas even if they are small changes at first. He wants to make the 2018 World Championships great for the skaters and exciting for the public. He knows change can ruffle some feathers. Just a small idea brought during the organisation of the 2014 World Cup event in Montreal was seen by some as being unnecessary spending. That idea was to have lap counters on every sides of the track to make sure you could see how many laps there is to go from anywhere in the stands. Based on that, it's easy to see why Clément's ideas may take more than one event to materialize. His goal is to make sure the crowd gets more than what's happening on the ice, something that, in my opinion, hasn't really been put in place here in the past. Since the World Championships will take place just a few weeks after the Pyeongchang Olympic Games, it safe to say that the Montreal competition will be sold out. « But why not use this opportunity to make sure people come back. We know it'll be a good show on the ice, but can we do more? I'm sure we can. I know just bringing the event to the level that it was in 2014 is a big challenge. I have the pressure to make it as good as it was then, but still put my personality into it. »

Simon Clément took the 24H Roller Montreal to a new level when he got in charge. He made it a happenning that you can be a part of even if you're not skating. An event where competitive skaters and recreational ones skate together, with different goals but with the same passion. As assistant manager of a World Cup event in short track, he acquired experience but still was able to put his touch by bringing new ideas. His role during the 51st Final of Les Jeux du Québec gave him the opportunity to work in an event that touched thousands of people. With his new role, he can't wait to bring his vision into the world of on ice speed skating events.  One thing is sure: the nomination of Simon Clément is a great news for speed skating fans looking to see their favorite sport blossom into something more.

*The 24H Roller de Montréal 2017 will take place at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on the weekend of September 16 and 17.

*The short track speed skating World Championships 2018 will be held at Arena Maurice-Richard in Montreal from March 16 to March 18 of 2018. 

0 commentaires:

Publier un commentaire