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The present and the future of skimountaineering PDF Stampa E-mail
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Martedì 14 Maggio 2013 00:04

Tags: Matteo Eydallin

A dynamic framework emerged, with aspects regarding the rules required to frequent ski resorts with intelligence, the operators of which in turn show increased awareness of the needs of this group of users.

The discipline is growing, also in light of the possibility of becoming an Olympic sport, which means an official definition of the various specialities. There is growing interest on the part of sponsors, which is gratifying for the professionalism of the organisers.
Bolzano, 2 May 2013 – The most important and relevant topics of the world of national and international skimountaineering were at the centre of the round table “Where is skimountaineering going?” Sponsors, brands, Olympics, training…- Exaltation or destruction of the values of skimountaineering?”, promoted by the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF), institutional partner of the Bolzano Fair.
Gathered around the same table at Prowinter 2013 were Armando Mariotta and Rebecca Vernon (President and Vice President of ISMF respectively), Helmut Sartori (Val Senales Ski lift manager), Manfred Reichegger and Matteo Eydallin (members of the Italian alpine ski team, FISI), Maurizio Dalla Libera (president of CNSASA - National Commission of the Schools of Skimountaineering and Climbing), Adriano Favre (president of the Grande Course), Oscar Angeloni (technician of the Italian Alpine Ski Team FISI). Representing the sports organisers: Marco Camandona (Tour du Rutor and representative of the Grande Course) and Alessandro Mottinelli (Adamello Ski Raid and Grande Course). Objective: to define the basis for the future development of a fast growing discipline, practised by an ever increasing number of sportsmen and women and followed by a growing public of enthusiasts, bringing into question topics such as safety and the rules of the skiing areas, sponsorships, and candidature for the Olympics and the big classic races.
“I would like to thank the Bolzano Fair who hosted us in the splendid setting of Prowinter to talk about the future of skimountaineering and to discuss the development of the discipline,” Armando Mariotta, president of ISMF commenced. “With the closure of the season it is important to summarise the situation, to find common ideas regarding the main issues and to effectively plan future actions.”
Skimountaineering and Safety.
The new generations of alpine skiers do not limit themselves to skiing on the “free” mountains, but also frequent ski resorts where they use the services: ski lifts to ascend, tracks to complete the descent to the valley and in any case to enjoy more relaxed skiing, refuges…places which are easily reached and even shared with the family.
“The aim of the enthusiast of this discipline is, in most cases, that of a sportsman or woman who loves extreme sports and is looking for new horizons to test his/her physical efficiency and limits, in an environment capable of providing genuine and intense emotions, in uncontaminated nature. Many are lowlanders with a season pass.” This is the situation outlined by Alessandro Mottinelli, the multifaceted mountain operator from Passo Tonale, in introducing the first point presented at the round table.

Within this framework the willingness to find new solutions to allow alpine skiers to ascend the borders of the tracks safely is outlined (as already regulated for now only in Trentino and in some places in Veneto), respecting the provisions of the law which, within the area of responsibility of the ski lift operators, also regulates the behaviour of people who frequent ski areas, and in addition the use of mechanical means for beating the tracks in the evening and during the night.
Many competitive alpine skiers, but also normal enthusiasts, can train only after sunset. And given the amount of time available they chose ski areas that are easily accessible. “The regulations in place, with slight local variations, ban the ascent of the tracks,” declares Alessandro Mottinelli. “Therefore no ski lift operator can authorise this practice. Common sense is required on the part of the sportsmen and women, in the choice of ascent routes within a ski resort, to avoid dangerous situations implicit in the daily management of the tracks. It is essential to get this message over to everyone.”
“The beating of tracks in the first hours of the night is in fact a difficult practice to put off,” confirms Helmut Sartori, Manager of the Val Senales ski lifts. “Putting off this activity, above all when the temperatures are not particularly rigid, represents a problem. We could talk about the possibility of reserving some tracks or paths, foregoing the regular use of cats, but at present the law prohibits the ascent of ski tracks, both at night and during the day, even along the borders. While descent is allowed only when the lifts are operating. All of this is dictated by security criteria which protects the users.”
“The present legal framework in force in Italy is very clear and establishes precise responsibilities to those who defy the provisions of the law,” adds Colonel Marco Mosso, commander of the Armed Forces Sports Centre that has a team of alpine skiers of international renown. “A possibility could be that of uniting all of the organisations that practice competitive skimountaineering in various forms to try and establish a collaboration with the ski lift operators, in the area of regulations.”
Safety education is the dominant theme of the activities carried out by the National Commission for Skimountaineering Schools, CAI Skimountaineering and Free Climbing: “Skimountaineering is an activity which presents risks and those who practise it assume responsibility,” affirms the president Maurizio Dalla Libera. “Outside the limits of competence of the skiing areas, the mountains must remain an area of free access, without laws that regulate behaviour. The CNSASA aims to promote and privilege the development of skimountaineering, with particular attention to problems related to the prevention of accidents. As managers of CAI we are called upon to exercise great care and to deal with the competent authorities, with the aim of avoiding every type of limit to the use of the mountain areas.”
One possible solution to extend the use of ski resorts also for the requirements of the training of competitive alpine skiers is suggested by Omar Oprandi: “It should be communicated to alpine skiers that they cannot go up the tracks and that whatever happens, it is their fault. It would also be better if the operators of the structures were to take the initiative to identify and create specific paths for alpine skiers, with specific tracks or forest roads: sign posted paths, with maps that indicate the way up and special signs could represent a valid solution, as they have already begun to do in the Paganella ski resort.”
Skimountaineering and the Olympic dream
The process of the candidature of the ISMF to the Olympic Federation was presented with enthusiasm by the Federal President Armando Mariotta: “The march towards to Olympics has started. We have invested a lot and we have prepared a candidature dossier with interesting data and information regarding our discipline. At the end of May in San Petersburg we will know if our Federation will become an Olympic Federation.” Satisfaction for the road taken by the Federation was expressed by all the speakers, even if with the conviction that acceptance of skimountaineering as an Olympic discipline – which could happen for 2022 – would not be possible without the important big classic races, thanks to which the movement has grown until today in its competitive component. “Skimountaineering has all it needs to enter the Olympics, because it represents to all effects all the values which underline the Games,” affirms Colonel Marco Mosso. “Certainly it will be necessary to adapt the competition models to the requirements of a big world event, keeping the big classic competitions, which represent the history of skimountaineering, in prime position.”
Alessandro Mottinelli considers that defining with precision the contents of the discipline is a must: “It is necessary to be very careful not to spoil the nature of skimountaineering. We have to agree: is skimountaineering a sprint, the Olympic formula, or the big classic competitions such as the Grande Course? Races like ours will never be the Olympics, therefore it is essential to define well which formula best represents our discipline.” Marco Camandona (Tour du Rutor and representative of the Grande Course) is of the same opinion: “The Grande Course at present represents a very important event and a reference point for fans of the discipline; we have to decide which form we want competitive skimountaineering to take in the future.”
“Some things will inevitably have to be reviewed, but the Olympics would be an important event both for the athletes and for the military sports centres,” added Oscar Angeloni, technician of the Italian skimountaineering team FISI. “Naturally there will have to be also the big classic competitions, the emblem of real skimountaineering, but I think that the Olympics and the big classics can coexist without any problems, as happens, for example, in cross-country skiing.”
Skimountaineering and Sponsorships
The exponential growth in skimountaineering has caught the attention of companies interested in investing in athletes and teams, to associate their image and brand with the values of the discipline. “Today skimountaineering has become more appealing to sponsors, even if we are talking about figures which are not comparable to other sports,” begins Matteo Eydallin, athlete of the Italian skimountaineering team FISI. “There are signs of interest on the part of various brands in races and circuits, that augur well for the growth of the entire movement.” Impressions which were confirmed by Oscar Angeloni as well: “As opposed to some years ago, today there are various sponsors knocking at the door of a movement that is growing all the time.”
In addition to the search for sponsors, today it is fundamental to manage sponsorships in a professional manner, to guarantee companies visibility: it is necessary to make sure that investments are compensated for by a correct exposition of the brands, even with the planning and organisation of dedicated activities. “Money is required to finance the growth of events and projects, but also, and above all a high level of professionalism,” reiterates Alessandro Mottinelli. “It is true that ours is a sport which is growing fast, but managing and pleasing sponsors is hard work for the organisers,” Marco Camandona adds. “Anyhow we have to look for partners even outside our world to increase the flow of information about our sport.”
ISMF is constantly monitoring the evolution and appeal of the sporting discipline with regard to potential sponsors. Riccardo Selvatico, marketing and communications manager of the Federation provides an overview of the situation: “In the skimountaineering environment, the World Cup, the big circuits, we are working to reach a standard for the management of sponsorships, along the lines of that used by other sports. There are many companies that believe in the route taken by skimountaineering, and I can confirm that there are signs of interest in investing on behalf of big brand names. Our discipline has been a niche product for years; but today, with structured management, we can aim to have many companies interested in financing more than the activities.”
“It is necessary to find companies that would like to associate their brand with skimountaineering’s message,” President Mariotta concludes. “We have, though, to spread this message all together. Today skimountaineering is a phenomenon with a public and enthusiasts that have been won over by the appeal of photographic evidence and exhilarating videos. To develop credible projects and think of one day reaching the ambitious goal of the Olympics, we need sponsors.”
For two years the promotion of skimountaineering, an emerging winter sporting discipline, has happened at Prowinter, the only B2B fair in Europe dedicated to hiring and services for winter sports: “Prowinter captured the positive trend of skimountaineering practitioners and enthusiasts, dedicating to this sport the Skitouring platform,” affirms Reinhold Marsoner, Manager of Bolzano Fair SpA, “We are confident that in the future our Fair will become an increasingly important point of reference, of comparison and a meeting place for all those who love skimountaineering and intend to promote its growth.”


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