By Teemu Virtanen
“Money makes the world go around,” some wise men have claimed ages ago, and there is no denying the fact that whatever we do, create or produce needs capital and support from financial institutions or wealthy individuals. The same applies to Visma Ski Classics Pro Teams.
It is not the cheapest way of doing business when you run your own pro team. There is so much a captain of the ship needs to take into consideration besides finding the best skiers and providing them great training conditions.
“It’s a tough job,” the director of ED Systems Bauer Team Lucas Bauer says based on the experience of his new role behind-the-scenes. “When you’re a pro skier, all you care about is your training and racing. But to pull the strings in the background is a different kind of animal. I was quite surprised how much work I need to put into running my team. When the season is over, I start going to meetings and looking for sponsors for my team. Of course, it helps that I have a recognized name in the game and my athletes are really strong. Regardless, it’s a job that never ends. After a race, I need to send press releases and inform our sponsors and just do everything I can to keep them happy.”
When you look at all 32 registered pro teams of this season, you can easily spot variety of sponsors and supporters. There are banks, real estate agencies, product manufacturers, ski clubs, sport stores, legal firms, construction companies, and even a university. They all seek exposure and a new marketing edge when stepping into the battlefield of the toughest sport in the world.
Touring around Europe for the whole winter is a hefty undertaking both financially and physically. After the season, it's time for summer activities such as training camps and roller-ski races. No wonder that a pro team director sometimes needs to work around the clock to make ends meet for his or her skiers. It is particularly challenging when a pro team is ranked somewhere in the middle as there are usually talented athletes there, but their success hasn’t been good enough for the big bucks, or in our case the Euros. Some sponsors may see the potential there, but while they wait for those glorious podium places, they need something else in the meantime.
Sven Münch, the leader of Team Forever Nordic, knows exactly what it means to be ranked in the middle. He has some young and promising young athletes in his ranks, and he is hoping to see some great results in the future. The time is not ripe for that to happen this season, but he is confident that the day will come when these forever-happy skiers are in the top 10.
“It’s hard to run a team, but I have a true passion for it,” Sven admits smiling. “You need to be so enthusiastic about the sport and everything that happens around it. We ran out of money as we lost our main sponsor, but I didn’t let despair take hold of me. You just have to be innovative, and we tried crowfunding. It worked well enough to ensure that we are still around.”
Speaking of innovation, to use today’s technology is only one possible avenue. Sven decided to make some noise in his homeland Germany. Everyone knows what Oktoberfest is in Munich and how many people attend the festivities. It is a perfect place to promote a pro team and the sport. Or at least, that’s what Sven figured out. He took his roller-skies, asked a video operator to follow him and double-poled straight into the crowd of happy beer drinkers.
“It worked! You just have to think out-of-the-box and be a bit crazy,” Sven laughs when recalling the incident. “We got some exposure and our sponsors loved it. Now, I’m already toying with some other extraordinary things to do. So, stay tuned as Team Forever Nordic is coming to your neighborhood!”
You can check out Sven’s video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVaVs6lhol4&t=7s