By Teemu Virtanen
When a long and demanding Visma Ski Classics season is over, pro teams and athletes have a moment to rest and reflect upon the past glories or disappointments before starting their gruesome training period over the summer and fall. It’s an important time for our heroes to take a breather and re-strategize as there is always another winter in sight with tough races to do and fearsome battles to face. But the springtime is even more important for the pro team managers and directors since they are relentlessly looking for new partners and sponsors and keeping the existing ones happy. It is a tough job, but someone has to do it.
Bruno Debertolis runs the sole Italian squad in the circuit, Team Trentino Robinson Trainer, and as a former pro athlete himself he knows what it takes to be on top. He has a good and solid team with one superstar from Poland, Justyna Kowalczyk, but despite being the 13th best pro team his prospects are not too promising at the moment. However, he is not falling in despair because there is always hope.
“Every year we are looking for new Italian guys to be able to strengthen our group, with an eye on the possibility of having a foreigner in the gang,” Bruno says sounding quite concerned. “Unfortunately, it is not so simple, and this year it seems even more difficult. At the moment only one of the three main sponsors has confirmed their support. If we don't have the confirmation from the other two or if we don't find some new sponsors, it will be very difficult to be able to schedule a season in the Visma Ski Classics pro tour.”
However, Bruno is happy to announce that Justyna has confirmed her participation for the new season as well, and all of his talented skiers are highly motivated despite the hardship they are currently fighting against. Besides Justyna’s victory in Birkebeinerrennet in Norway, the team members managed to win 11 other respected races in Italy, Germany and Austria making them the most successful team in Central Europe along with Lukas Bauer’s ED System Bauer Team.
“In spite of our great success, it seems it’s not enough to get a budget that will allow us to have sufficient training camps and do the races in the tour. Even last season, we had to skip some events on the tour because our budget just didn’t cut it. I’m working hard and I have hope, but I don’t know what’s going to happen in the few weeks to come. Regardless, we’ll fight until the end and keep telling everyone about the greatness of Visma Ski Classics and how much exposure they can get by sponsoring us. There are now five stages in Italy including the new La Venosta event, all the races are live on Eurosport Italia and there’s so much visibility available for our partners.”
Even if Bruno’s team is currently facing financial troubles, they are in high spirits and looking positively ahead. They have started training and they have hefty goals for the anniversary season. They want to perform much better and be among the top 10 teams. They are juggling with their responsibilities with work, family and skiing as none of them are full-time professional skiers.
“For now we go on day by day but always with the maximum focus on looking for new opportunities and new collaborations that can help our project, “ Bruno continues optimistically. “We hope this will happen very soon so that our athletes can carry out their preparation in the best possible way with some training camps, some roller-ski races and a positive outlook on a new season in the most beautiful cross-country circuit in the world.”