Being a team manager for a group of professional skiers isn't too different than teaching high school. Many of the athletes are super driven and focused, but that doesn't stop their brains—and feet—from wandering at really important times. It's the team manager's job to make sure every athlete is where they need to be at the right time, among many other tasks. We spoke with former Blizzard/Tecnica team manager Frank Shine to get a glimpse at what this job involves.
One of the best things about my job is that it changes from month to month.
This time of year I’m getting products to athletes, planning trips, planning photo shoots, getting assets to the marketing department, and, often getting contracts signed—which isn’t the case for me this year since we signed multi-year contracts at this time last year.
The definition of team manager is changing too.
It’s not sitting behind a desk telling someone where to be. It’s helping get photos and exposure with the magazines or social media. We’ve started to produce more content in-house to help tell a better brand story, and athletes are a big part of that.
The problem with video is that there’s way too much of it out there.
I talk to my skiers (especially junior skiers) about this all the time because they’re often encouraged to make an end-of-season edit. But it’s best to keep those videos condensed or it won’t be watched. For us as a brand, starting this year video will play a bigger role in what we do. We’ll be making sure our athletes have the equipment and skills to shoot and edit, but you have to do it right. There are brands out there, like Salomon, that do a great job with video.
Sometimes a freeride team is thought of in a certain way: sponsoring one or two big-name athletes who appear in movies and get a ton of other exposure. It’s more homegrown and grassroots for us. We want the athletes that fit with our brands the best.
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We expect our athletes to be brand ambassadors and understand what we’re doing and what we’re trying to do.
They need to help in any way they can whether that means demos, or photo shoots, or hanging out at key shops. I want people who are passionate about the sport and think outside the box too. They need to be humble and hard working, and, of course, kick-ass at skiing.
It’s getting easier to decide whom to sponsor because our team is taking shape.
We want everyone on the team to get along and compliment each other. The hardest part is with young skiers because they may ski well now, but it’s hard to know what their skills and personality will be 5 or 6 years down the road. So I just hang out with them in order to get a feel for what they want in life, what their passion is and if they’ll keep progressing and pushing the sport.
Our freeride team is playing a bigger role for us.
Last year we started organizing athlete summits that focus on product development and making sure our product lines are going in the right direction. We want our team to spend more time together and give us feedback on the product while also feeling comfortable with each other.
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Originally published in December 2013 for Skiing Magazine's Website. The article has since been updated for formatting, links, photos and reflects that Frank Shine is no longer the official Blizzard team manager.