Case Study: XC Ottawa
In the summer of 2007, Podiumwear was approached by XC Ottawa Ski Team to be an in-kind sponsor by providing them with custom ski apparel for their team members. Back then, the Canadian ski scene was relatively new to us and we were excited to grow the Podiumwear brand further north. Our relationship with this team has grown a great deal over the past five years and so has our knowledge of and respect for this talented group of racers so we want to tell you a bit about them.
Who Is XC Ottawa?
XC Ottawa started in 2001 at that time when Canada had “no real options” for post-college skiers looking for high-level training in an atmosphere that would also allow them to pursue secondary goals like work and school. As it happened, a group of athletes fitting this description had found themselves in the Ottawa-Gatineau region of Quebec. For those of you who don’t know this area, it is a “year-round playground” with hundreds of kilometers of trails for cross-country skiing within close range of a thriving regional economy. This original group decided that this was the “perfect place to start an independent racing team” and that’s what they did.
The team, however, did not go about this in the usual manner. XC Ottawa is not your average ski team. It is uniquely organized as a cooperative, athlete-run team. The athletes do everything from hiring the coach and deciding the race schedule to organizing their own financial support and sponsorships and planning their own trips.
The mission of the team is also unique in that they do more than simply support their own training and racing lifestyles. They also make sure to give back to the cross-country ski community in a significant way.
Every athlete joining XC Ottawa is expected to do much more than train and race. They each put significant time and energy into the team and its community partners. Athletes do this in ways that take advantage of their particular strengths and/or life situations. Some examples include organizing community races, sitting on various committees at the regional level, providing physiotherapy services, participating in waxing clinics, posting wax reports for the community, and maintaining the Gatineau Park's essential reference point - the WebCam - that provides thousands of skiers with a view of the ski conditions prior to hitting the snow. In fact, XC Ottawa has made www.xcottawa.ca one of Canada's leading cross-country ski websites, and the undisputed regional leader in ski information of all types.
XC Ottawa has also enjoyed great competitive success. Team members have won National Championship medals, Provincial Championships, the Keskinada Ski Loppet, and have raced on the World Cup circuit, World University Games, Canada Games, and many other prestigious national and international competitions. The team has developed athletes that have advanced enough to pursue ski racing on a full-time basis.
The team posts applications for the following year's roster every April. Obviously the team has a lot to offer members but its individual team members must also be able and excited to give something meaningful back to the team and the ski community at large. That consideration is a big part of the process of being accepted.
Every year, a new crop of XC Ottawans join the wily veterans, and provide fresh energy. Currently there are 16 members of the XC Ottawa ski team.
Why does Podiumwear Support XC Ottawa?
Podiumwear has its roots in nordic skiing. Podiumwear owner Reid Lutter is a long-time nordic coach, having started his own team and trained athletes to international levels. He is also founder of the National U.S. Nordic Foundation which is now a major supporter of junior and senior athletes trying to make it to the international stage. He started Podiumwear in 2003 after years of frustrating experiences with custom apparel companies whose clothing and customer service did not live up to his expectations. So you see, Reid has a history of filling voids that have existed in the nordic community. For him, starting a new endeavor within this community has alway meant giving back to it in a meaningful way. It is this same entrepreneurial and community-centered spirit that we see in XC Ottawa and it is something we are proud to support.
XC Ottawa Suit Design Through the Years: