#2 in the last season’s FIS World Cup standings got an interesting additional role in her life and career.
Natalia Nepryaeva was elected today a chairman of the regional ski association ( the Russians call them “regional federations” ) in her native Tver in a highly unusual move that we assess as both positive and promising.
Tver is a region of some 1.3 million people and long established skiing traditions. To put it in perspective, Alex Bolshunov being born in Bryansk is quite a bit of a fluke – Nepryaeva coming from Tver is something to be expected.
Traditionally, a title of the regional association boss went to either well-respected coach or top local ski philanthropist. In other words, somebody with a lot of experience and gravitas.
The things started to change recently when with Max Vylegzhanin became regional boss of skiing in his native Udmurtia, then Alexander Bessmertnykh was elected to a similar position in Kemerovo. Both enjoy tremendous, football-star like popularity at home – but both are men in their 30s
To elect a 24 year old at the prime of her international career is totally without a precedent.
We reckon it comes from deepening understanding that top stars with their guaranteed television appearances and, especially, robust social media following, would make much better ambassadors of skiing than veterans, no matter how experienced.
To be clear: Natalia’s skiing career is not in jeopardy, she’s preparing for the upcoming season as hard as we ever saw anybody doing.