…It’s been a month since Thomas Alsgaard have suddenly announced the end of the Team LeasePlan better known as Tigers for their colorful racesuits
Now a Russian ski team aims to bring felines back on the skiing trail.
Meet Team Snow Leopards.
The Russian outfit does not yet have world’s top skiers in its ranks, neither does it have a strong corporate sponsor to support its ambitions – yet. They do, however, have an interesting, novel approach to funding and building a community.
The snow leopard or Uncia uncia ( also known as Panthera uncia) is one of the most endangered big cats – only some 4000 to 8000 survive in the wild.
It lives in the snowy mountains of Central Asia with their Russian, Siberian population being one of the biggest.
WWF ( World Wildlife Fund) runs a special protection program for the show leopard. https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/snow-leopard
And the new Russian ski team helps to spread the message by carrying the WWF logo on their racesuits of a rather daring design. Part of the proceeds from selling of the team paraphernalia goes to the WWF Snow Leopard program.
But it’s not just about making money, says the team director Alexei Chernousov ( the older brother of the Sochi’14 medalist and recent La Diagonela winner Ilya Chernousov)
“Just like this magnificent cat, we love the snow and the mountains.”
Chernousov, who , together with his wife Marina came up with the idea of working with WWF, says the “big point” was to raise awareness for the plight of the snow leopard – and the reaction of the skiing public was “ enthusiastic beyond all of our expectations”
The team now competes in Russianloppet, a local series but hopes to expand to the European and the world ski circuit one day. Well, we certainly hope to see the new cats making that leap. Go, Snow Leopards!