Photo: Anton Järnberg (center in the photo), Lager 157 Ski Team, is one of the Pro Team Directors sharing his thoughts about Visma Ski Classics.
ProXCskiing talked to some of the most successful Pro Team Directors about how the Visma Ski Classics circuit is developing, how to motivate younger athletes to step into long-distance racing, and finally, how attractive long-distance skiing is becoming to sponsors.
Another successful season has come to an end. Season XII has been long and arduous for the Pro Tour skiers, who have raced all over Europe in long and hilly courses, and sometimes with challenging conditions.Now that the off-season has arrived, Pro Tour athletes have a well-deserved break. But they aren’t the only ones who deserve to have time off the tracks. People who we do not see double-poling on the tracks but who must do a lot for teams to work. They are the Pro Team Directors.
Pro Team Directors are responsible for everything that makes a Pro Team work: managing sponsorships, booking flights and accommodation, buying food and sometimes cooking, taking care of training plans, and managing the team’s social media accounts, among many other things.
ProXCskiing talked to some of the most successful Pro Team Directors: Anton Järnberg (Lager 157 Ski Team), Gustaf Korsgren (Team Ramudden), and Magnar Dalen (Team Ragde Charge), who has just won the title of best Pro Team Director Season XII.
The audience of the Visma Ski Classics events is growing every year. How attractive is it to sponsors nowadays?
“We see every year that the long-distance scene is growing and getting bigger and bigger. I think the athletes and teams are getting more active, thus becoming more attractive for sponsors.”
“We have a positive push now with the broadcasting in Sweden and Norway. I think this is good for the Swedish teams and skiers to find sponsors and partnerships for this sport and the future.”
“It is attractive for sponsors because races take a long time, making sponsors more visible for many minutes/hours on TV. Also, nowadays, many sponsors want their brands to be synonym with nature, endurance, and durability.”
Some younger athletes prepare their careers to be long-distance skiers. What could be done to attract more young athletes to this discipline?
“I don’t want to see the traditional and long-distance ski separated. I want to see cross-country skiing, and we need to make it interesting for the young people. Some of them might have characteristics for long-distance, and some might prefer shorter distances. I think the importance is to build cross-country skiing as a whole.”
“We have already attracted the young skiers who are 10-16 years old. They don’t see any difference between traditional and long-distance skiing. Right now, we have an older generation of skiers, but we will have a lot of younger skiers that will probably kick these old guys in some years. I think it will be an exciting future.”
“Double-poling is not too complicated. You can train it all the time with skis, rollerskis, or Skierg. Being uncomplicated is a big benefit. You need less expensive equipment than if you had to go for classic and skating styles.”
How should Ski Classics develop in the future?
“I think we can have some 10-12 weekend races, maybe even 14. Marcialonga and Vasaloppet are the biggest events in long-distance skiing, and we need to make them even more important. We should build the cross-country skiing community around these two races.”
“The most important thing is to keep these races that are traditional and have been around for a long time, like Vasaloppet and Birkebeinerrennet. But also, some new races on the calendar every season is important to attract some other athletes and skiers. But the most important thing is to have the same core of the calendar.”
“I think things should stay the way they are. Somebody else can start up ski skating competitions. We hope that Ski Classics goes to North America!”