Bont Pulls Plug on International Team ... Is the World Cup Growing Too Fast?
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So far, it is not clear whether any new international teams will emerge to fill the boots of Fila and Bont.
No doubt there will be plenty of regional teams competing in the races in Europe, where most events (14 or 18, this year) take place.
But it doesn't appear at this point that there will be many teams (aside from local teams) contesting the races outside of Europe.
Et Tu, Rollerblade?
Even Rollerblade, the WIC's biggest supporter, is hinting that it may skip Asian and American events.
"Our team had a strong season," Rollerblade team manager Sami Raimann said in an email to the Planet.
"But as you can see from Fila, victories do not necessarily sell skates. You need to do other things, like clinics and promotions.
"For the future, this could mean it would be more important for us to do a skate clinic than the Duluth or Seoul marathons."
Team Microsoft, Maybe ... In Black?
For its part, Iguana Think Tank is trying to sign up large non-skate companies (with deep pockets) as team sponsors.
"Today, the World Cup is so strong that it has to find new (sponsors) apart from the existing skate brands," Coni Altherr, the head of Iguana Think Tank, said in an email.
These sponsors should come from outside the skate world, such as from the auto, telecommunications and insurance industries, he said.
A couple of large companies have already signed up. KIA Motors sponsors one of the top women's teams; and Saab has cosponsored the Salomon men's team for several years but is apparently pulling out.
Altherr points out that many other sportsincluding cycling, soccer and Formula 1have come to rely on sponsors from outside the sports world.
"It is our job (at Iguana Think Tank) to build up a world-renowned race series, to create guidelines and to push the organization of events," Altherr said.
"But the teams also have to learn to use (the World Cup) platform to market themselves, to look for partners and to finance themselves.
"They have to work more professionally than they did a few years ago."
Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson
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