Monday, November 22, 2010

Bibs and Boards (Gällivare Edition)

I was struck, this summer, by the way that the FIS's updates accented news about sponsors. Granted, there wasn't much racing to comment upon (rollerski world cup, anyone?), but I was still interested in press releases like this:

FIS Marketing AG, in close cooperation with FIS and its member National Ski Associations, is proud to present a new marketing concept for the FIS Cross-Country World Cup beginning with the upcoming 2010/2011 competition season.

The most significant elements of the new concept are a streamlined sponsorship model with just five main sponsors - 1 presenting sponsor and 4 main sponsors - internationally to create a consistent look and feel for the FIS Cross-Country World Cup. This approach is poised to improve the presentation of all partners and increase the visibility of their brands while enhancing the level of exclusivity for each.
Whatever that might mean, it probably means that money makes the cross-country ski world go 'round, and it surely means trackside boards like this:

Four-wheel drive Beemer, anyone?

And of course it means bibs like this in the women's relay

and like this in the men's relay

So what exactly are LKAB and Boliden? Glad you asked - since their dollars (err, kronor) helped make the racing at Gällivare happen, from the grooming to the prize money.

LKAB describes itself as "an international high-tech minerals group" - a mining company. LKAB has always been based in Sweden's iron fields, which are located around Gällivare. In other words, they're homers. Good on them! I'm only disappointed that nobody calls Hellner the "LKAB Man." I'm sure it'd trip off the tongue in Swedish.

Boliden, on the other hand, is a totally different kind of company - a zinc and copper mining company based in central Sweden, not an iron-mining concern based in Lapland. Sorta: they have a giant open-pit copper mine near Gällivare. It must have been into this pit that Kowalcyzk fell during the skate race last Saturday.