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Inside the CHI Geneva Virtual with Sophie Mottu Morel, Show Director

What can equestrian fans look forward to seeing as part of CHI Geneva Virtual? Are there any surprises in store?!

As soon as the cancellation of the CHI Geneva was announced, it was obvious for us to be virtually present from 10-13 December 2020, the original dates of our event. We brainstormed with the team, and our goal was to create something different from what has been done already. That is why we have decided to produce a daily television programme, lasting about one hour, which will include prestigious guests. We have been producing a TV show during the CHI Geneva for a few years now, so we already have a bit of experience in this area. Alban Poudret and Michel Sorg – the voices behind the Geneva CHI – will lead these interviews, which will feature a star guest each day, in the studio or by video conference. The conversations will include anecdotes and memories, and the guests will also comment on some of their favourite courses over the years in Geneva’s Palexpo Arena.

How will people be able to get involved in CHI Geneva Virtual?

Equestrian fans will be able to watch the TV show on the CHI Geneva’s website (www.chi-geneve.ch) and on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/CHIGeneve). The broadcasts will be live on Thursday 10 (special guest: Kevin Staut via Zoom), Friday 11 (special guest: Steve Guerdat either in the studio or via Zoom) and Saturday 12 December (special guests: Eric Lamaze and Luciana Diniz via Zoom) from 18.30-19.30 GVA, and on Sunday 13 December (special guest: Martin Fuchs via Zoom) from 14.00-15.00 GVA. Fans will be able to ask live questions to guests via social networks and a dedicated platform, participate in polls, and there will be opportunities to win special gifts!

CHI Geneva has been voted the ‘World’s Best Show’ on 10 occasions. Does that phenomenal achievement give you an added incentive to make CHI Geneva Virtual a huge success?

Winning these awards make us work even harder every year – they drive us to continually surpass ourselves. Accolades like these incentivise us to think differently to our peers – the other great equestrian shows – which is why we have decided to do something unique as part of CHI Geneva Virtual.

What’s the key to organising a successful show, either live or virtual?

The key to our success is undoubtedly our passion for equestrian sport. The team put its heart and soul into the organisation of the show. Sometimes people call us dreamers, but I think that’s our strength, as it’s important to dream big!

What have you most enjoyed about organising CHI Geneva Virtual?

It has been very exciting to think about the content of each of these four daily programmes. The organisation has taken considerable teamwork from our communication team, including Yannick Guerdat, with whom we will produce the programmes, and Nicolas Bossard, who has been working with us on the programmes since the beginning of CHI Geneva (CHIG) TV.

What positives will you take from this experience?

A real willingness to do something different, a common vision in the ideas that we’ve created and implemented, and a fantastic motivation to propose and deliver something truly inspirational and original for the equestrian community.

Due to COVID-19, Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Majors, CHIO Aachen and CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ both held virtual editions. Has CHI Geneva Virtual taken any inspiration from these two events?

As I say, the organising team at the CHI Geneva wanted to do something different and original that’s never been tried before. But of course, we followed with interest what our friends from the Rolex Grand Slam have done this year, which was very impressive, so we commend them.

You must have an exceptionally talented team behind you to be able to organise CHI Geneva Virtual in such a short period of time?

The CHI Geneva is fortunate to be able to count on extremely competent, talented and motivated people. I must mention the incredible volunteers, who are the soul and spirit of the show, and without them it wouldn’t be possible. So, that’s why we are giving them the exclusive opportunity to be the only ones that can ask questions to our special guests on CHIG TV on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 December – this is our gift to them. But one volunteer will also win a big gift: a VIP experience to next year’s CHIO Aachen.

Swiss prodigy, Martin Fuchs is the reigning champion of the Rolex Grand Prix at the CHI Geneva. Do you believe he has what it takes to retain his title in 2021?

Martin must be incredibly disappointed not to be able to defend his title this year, but I am sure he will be even more motivated to retain it in 2021.

Steve Guerdat is currently ranked number one in the world he has participated in every Major since 2013. How is Steve so consistent, and how is it that he and Martin are ranked number one and number two in the world respectively?

Steve is extremely talented, and he knows how to manage his horses’ programmes perfectly, and I believe that’s one of the keys to his incredible consistency. He is an inspiration to many young riders in Switzerland but also around the world,  and I am sure for Martin too. Martin’s father trains Steve, and Martin and Steve have fostered a mutual respect for one another and a very friendly rivalry, which, combined, is why I think the Swiss team is so strong today.

2021 will mark the 60th edition of the CHI Geneva. What have been your personal highlights since you’ve been involved in the show?

There are a lot of wonderful highlights that have stood out for me. I would have to say that the ones where I have really had goosebumps were Steve and Jalisca Solier’s World Cup Final victory in 2006 and the emotional farewell to Nino des Buissonnets in 2016.

The 20th edition of the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final at CHI Geneva will be celebrated at next year’s show – will CHI Geneva Virtual’s programme include a virtual Top 10 class?

We will of course talk about the Top 10. For example, there will be an opportunity for our special guests and the equestrian fans that tune in to the broadcast to create their very own Top 10 from over the years, even from the very first edition of the show in 1926!