By André Santos
Below Zero – this is the translation of Sottozero and it was also the name of a famous winter sports TV show in the Italian region of Trentino. Now, the former director of the TV show, Michele Pasqualotto, decided to start his own team with an eye on the Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour – Team Sottozero Gold Team – Zorzi Max.
“20 years ago I created a TV show with the mission of talking about winter sports. It became very famous in the region of Trentino,” Michele Pasqualotto tells me calling from Trento, near the Dolomites. Being a passionate cross-country skier, it was a natural move for him to create the team. Pasqualotto knew he had the support, and a lot of friends and sponsors were motivating him to do it.
“It is a very hard work to get funding for the team, but TV helps a lot. Also, we have friends that have been contributing. And we have a winning formula” jokes Michele Pasqualotto referencing the fact that the team is composed by one Spanish and six Italian athletes, making them feel like they are representing the people of the region of Trentino. “But this is not my first experience managing a team. Five years ago, I created a team with more than 100 amateur athletes, named Sottozero Nordic Team and we used to compete in the Italian Ski Federation races,” says Michele Pasqualotto showing me that he is no amateur in the business of managing cross-country ski teams.
Sottozero Gold Team - Zorzi Max has some faces that are known on the Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour. Mauro Brigadoi and Francesco Ferrari moved from Team Robinson Trentino to this new-born Pro Team, and Sadurni Betriu Boix, the first Spanish pro athlete competing on the tour, is also part of the team. “We met Sadurni at Vasaloppet. He stayed in our house, and we really enjoyed to watch him train and race. He is such a strong skier. And with Mauro and Francesco in the team, we can say that we have some of the best Italian long distance skiers,” states Michele Pasqualotto.
About the upcoming Visma Ski Classics season, Michele Pasqualotto says that the team will be present in almost all races. We can expect to see this Italian squad competing in Livigno, La Venosta, Kaiser Maximilian Lauf, Marcialonga, Toblach-Cortina, and then they will move to the north where they will be competing at Vasaloppet, Birkebeinerrennet, Reistadløpet and will finish the season at Ylläs-Levi. “I will participate in all the races wearing a Go-Pro camera,” states Michele Pasqualotto, showing how enthusiastic he is about our sport.
When asked about his heroes in the sport, Michele Pasqualotto points out Charlotte Kalla who has always inspired him. But his big hero is one of the best long distance skiers ever, Tord Asle Gjerdalen. “I met him last year and gave him a shirt of Sottozero Gold Team,” says Michele while showing me the shirt.
“We have the north disease,” he says laughingly and tells me about the motorbike trip that he did with his wife last summer. “We went from our town, Trento, to the very north of Norway”.
Indeed, we can say that Michele Pasqualotto is really passionate about endurance events!