Tuesday, Aug 16th

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Hotseat - Susy Piscione

801_hotseatIt's seldom that one meets someone who ignites a spark. Susy is exceptional; her positive attitude is infectious; she is a typical A-type personality whose enthusiasm for St. Maarten is contagious; she is totally in love with the place. She's the dynamic owner of TriSports. As triathlons have grown, so too has TriSports. From road races to children's triathlons at Le Galion or off-roading on the trails at Belvedere, there's something happening every weekend. With the informative map of all the cycling and hiking trails, St. Maarteners can explore all the natural beauty the island has to offer. To foster safer roads for cyclists, TriSports created the "Share the road" campaign. Sport, bikes, exercise and family are key factors in Susy's life.

Where were you born and where did you spend your young years?

I was born in a small town called Benoni; but I've lived in St. Maarten from when I was one week old. I often tell people I was born here. I really don't feel like I come from anywhere else.

You have made St. Maarten your home, married and have had children here. What comes to mind about the differences in families from when you grew up?

I am concerned about the example being set for young people. So many parents work and are not directly involved in their children's lives. Who teaches them? My mom was there for me. We did things together as a family: meals, sports, activities. Now I try to give my family the same. When my boys were young, I worked while they were with me in the shop. I cook every day for the family. We eat together as a family and share time together on weekends.

Do you have a mentor?

My father; he was attracted by the ease of settling here. He and his partner Peter Spronk built the famed racy Caribbean catamarans on this lovely island. They created Land Sea Air in Cole Bay, where Lagoonies currently stands. Our home was in Simpson Bay in a tiny shack. My earliest memories are of watching my father run up and down the beach when I was two.

How did you get started with TriSports?

We're an outdoors family. When I finished university, Dad asked me to start a cycling business with him. I agreed. We started by selling Trek bicycles and accessories out of the living room, but when clients started knocking at the door at 9:00pm, we decided it was time to get business premises. That was 22 years ago; and Tri Sports is still in the same location.

What do you like about St. Maarten?

I like our diverse population. We can enjoy Johnny cakes and ribs one day and then drive around the corner for an incredible sushi meal. I love that we are Duty Free, which has given St. Maarten the edge. At TriSports, we can sell our products for the same as the USA. What other island can boast that?

What do you dislike about St Maarten?

That's a tough question. Probably what frustrates me is St. Maarteners who don't know their island. I get many tourists asking where they can go hiking or biking, or what they can do together with their children. It seems that hotel workers, taxi drivers, activities desks are not well informed about the true beauty that our island has to offer. I tell visitors about places like Happy Bay, Point Bluff, the Bellevue Hike, and the Guana Bay Natural Pools. It's frustrating that the island isn't shown in all its glory because people simply do not care enough. The love of our land seems to have been lost somewhere along the way.

What do you do for fun?

Fun for me is road bike racing. The adrenaline and the effort make for a perfect day in my eyes. A nice early morning run with my husband also rates high on my list of fun factors.

What are your pet peeves?

Laziness and people who complain. I have absolutely no pity for those who do not help themselves. I have worked since I was 12, doing everything possible to earn my own salary. I bought a horse with my own money at the age of 13; a motorcycle at 14 and a car at 19. That was through renting beach chairs, sticking stamps on envelopes, teaching horse riding, selling activities on the beach. For those who complain that there are no jobs out there, I say, "What a load of hogwash! You are wallowing in self-pity. Get your butt out there; learn how to speak properly; be on time for your interview and work."

What's your favourite pastime and how do you relax?

I love exercise in any form. I enjoy nothing more than playing beach tennis (which I totally suck at!) on Mullet Bay Beach with my boys and then lying in the sun.

What's your current project?

Our roads are a great resource. They encourage people to get out and exercise. Look how many runners, cyclists, joggers and drivers use the causeway. If you build facilities, people will use them. I want all our roads to be developed with walkways and cycle lanes for everyone to be able to use – not just cars. We need legislation to guarantee that every road is planned, financed and built as a complete facility.

[Note: After a meeting with VROMI, Susy is now energised to get a petition together that will prove that St. Maarten residents find this important. To participate, please sign it at http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/sxmroads]

If you could invite three people (living or dead) to dinner, who would they be and what would you serve them?

My dad who passed away three years ago – I still have so much I want to ask him; his father – I don't remember him at all (I know my own father would have liked to have had more time with him); my husband's father who I never met before he passed away 20 years ago. I would love to tell him about how wonderful his son turned out. I would serve them seared tuna with Wasabi butter sauce, roasted sweet potatoes and a spinach and feta salad with balsamic dressing.