Why I signed a contract with a Spanish company and not a Russian one. Chronicle of Veronika Stepanova

Last week I signed a contract with a Spanish company. The contract itself is not very important, but for me it is important in terms of conditions.

Why not with a Russian company? We have several excellent ski equipment manufacturers in our country at once. But there are two points. First, Russian companies are not very keen on sponsoring top athletes according to international standards. They can be understood. Sponsorship is expensive, it requires the creation of special “running departments” in the company, which, in fact, work with athletes. But above all, it seems to me that Russian manufacturers still do not really understand why they need it. Traditions, mentality, costs.

The second, in continuation of the first, is that Russian companies produce ski equipment of good, even excellent, but not of champion quality. To win at the Olympics, and even in the Russian Cup races, I absolutely need the best skis, poles, boots, ski paraffins, etc. When the price of victory is a split second, you won’t compromise. The vast majority of skiers do not need such “racing equipment”, and Russian companies prefer to work in the middle price segment.

Almost all high-end championship-class equipment is produced by specialist Western brands. Moreover, it does not matter how highly developed ski racing is in the country: the Austrians have not won anything serious for a long time, but the biggest ski brand in the world comes from there.

In principle, the market has been established for a long time, but sometimes new ambitious players appear in it who want to do everything in their own way, in a different way. “Breaking stereotypes” is the official motto of my new sponsor. Need I say this is exactly what I love?!

As far as I know, this is one of the first sponsorship deals last year between a Western company and a Russian athlete. Yes, Western companies are now afraid of the so-called “Twitter trial”, all the hate that is now being thrown at those who continue to work with Russia. Many are forced to hide their cooperation, some have really reduced their work with the Russian market.

But Spaniard Jorge Vidal thinks otherwise. It seems to him that working with a Russian athlete these days is such a gesture to all enemies and “cancellers of Russia”. You know, in the mind of the Argentina national team goalkeeper. Before he started working with me, Jorge clearly understood one thing: for some in the West, a contract with a Russian athlete in 2022 will cause serious headaches. We expected the resonance and agreed from the start: I am me, I will not stop expressing my opinion on the subjects that interest me for the sake of sponsorship contracts.

And Jorge is very ambitious – like me.

He came up to me and said, “Veronica, I have money and a desire to make the best ski poles in the world. Let’s do them together!”

It was summer. Since then, a stormy exchange of views between Russia and the Pyrenees (this is where the Fourcade brothers grew up, only their house is on the other side of the mountain – from the French) has multiplied. I don’t know if Jorge himself regretted it, but his engineers certainly regretted contacting me. At the beginning, almost everything did not suit me: pendulum, gallows, handles, lanyards. Modern ski poles aren’t space, but space technologies are definitely carbon, kevlar, and even graphene. Step by step, we arrived at a product that suits me. And frankly, I’m still not satisfied with everything – the work continues, as I said before, the goal is absolutely the best ski poles in the world, “champion”.

As soon as we officially announced our cooperation last week, the Spaniards were hit with hatred, including from people they know personally. But orders have also poured in – and from rather exotic places. Ski poles are also great for roller skis – and you’d be surprised how surprised I was to learn how many of these are sold in snowless countries now!

Sure, you can say, “The hype is for sale.” Partly, but something else is more important – the Spaniards needed a very demanding “tester” on the quality of the product. And they got it – half a summer and all fall, the product was being finalized, and so far I’m not entirely satisfied with the details. But the manufacturers are happy – as I said before, we agreed to make the best product in the world together.

Why such a long story? Two things that seem fundamentally important to me.

First, to show that no wall can separate Russian sport from the world market. As long as it is profitable to cooperate with us, everyone will cooperate, sanctions will interfere, but “the water will always find a hole”.

Second, the days of a model walking the runway in a dress given to her by a designer and the actor reading the role and receiving compensation are over.

It is the same with athletes. We want broad participation in the process. I have a lot more confidence in my tone when I say “buy that” when I know the people and have seen the production. At least I tested the product myself. And I’m not interested in choosing from off-the-shelf products – I want to participate in creating a product that I will use and advertise.

Source : MatchTV

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