In late 2022, Simone Moro left Italy to attempt the first winter ascent of Manaslu (8163 m), together with Alex Txikon and a team of Nepalese mountaineers. It would be Simone’s fifth attempt in winter on this mountain.
This winter ascent of the mountain would have been Simone’s fifth winter ascent of an 8,000-meter peak
the other four being: Shisha Pangma (8027 m), Makalu (8463 m) and GasherbrumII (8035 m), Nanga Parbat (8126 m).
The first winter ascent of Manaslu was made on January 12, 1984, by Poles Maciej Berbeka and Ryszard Gajewski, as well as the concatenation of the ascent in succession of the two peaks of the Manaslu massif: the 7992-meter East Pinnacle and the 8163-meter main summit. The latter ascent was also made by two very great Polish mountaineers, Jerzy Kukuczka and Artur Hajzer, on November 10, 1986.
Simone’s penultimate attempt to climb Manaslu in winter was last year, 2021, with Alex Txicon, with whom Simone reached the summit of Nanga Parbat together with Ali Sadpara, who lost his life during the winter expedition to K2 in 2020.
The first four attempts in 2015, 2018, 2020 and 2021 failed because of the amount of snow that fell in a few days that made the ascent impossible.
This was his 72nd expedition, including 22 in the cold season. Before leaving, in an interview with Corriere della Sera, he said:
“With lucidity I must recognize that in the previous four attempts, three months for each, so a year of my life, I managed to reach only 6,200 meters, a route I usually complete in three hours. Manaslu is considered one of the easiest in the propitious season, which explains well how upsetting it is if you go in winter.”
In this fifth time, however, the weather conditions were propitious but it was not enough: Simone had to give up due to a physical illness (dysentery) that took away his strength and forced him to make the decision to forgo the climb and invite the rest of the team to continue without him.
What for Simone was surrender and thus failure to achieve the goal, for Alex Txikon, Chhepal Sherpa, Tenjen Lama Sherpa, Pasang Nurbu Sherpa, Mingtemba Sherpa, Pemba Tasi Sherpa, and Gyalu Sherpa was full success with a summit conquered 39 years after the first ascent.
We at Sports&Beyond congratulate everyone, for the success to the team that made it to the summit and to Simone for his lucidity in making such a difficult decision.
If you want to read Marianna Zanatta’s behind-the-scenes reflections you can read the article Simone Moro and the Manaslu – When it’s not just about resilience, success and failure.
Ferragosto is a holiday of ancient Roman origin, celebrated on August 15 in Italy, San Marino and Canton Ticino. Ferragosto day is traditionally devoted to out-of-town trips, barbecues, picnic lunches and, given the seasonal heat, refreshing swims in swimming pools, sea, river or lake waters. Also widespread is the exodus to mountain or hillside locations in search of refreshment.
The term Ferragosto comes from the Latin phrase Feriae Augusti (Augustus’ rest) indicating a holiday established by EmperorAugustus in 18 B.C. that was in addition to the other holidays falling in the same month. It was a period of rest and celebration that originated from the tradition of the Consualia, festivals celebrating the end of agricultural work, dedicated to Conso, god of the earth and fertility. The ancient Ferragosto, in addition to its obvious purposes of political self-promotion, was intended to link the main August festivities to provide an adequate period of rest, also called Augustali, needed after the great labors expended during the preceding weeks. [Taken from Wikipedia]
For many athletes, it is not clear that as athletes they are a brand.
Many are confused about it.
Many think it is the business of a few, of the truly famous.
In general, we all often think that branding is related only to big companies whose logos and products are instantly recognizable, but in reality individuals can have a brand too!
Why is it important instead for every athlete to feel, regardless of discipline, age, level, and notoriety that they are a brand? What does it mean to be a brand?
What is branding?
‘brä′nd’ s. Engl., In the language of advertising and corporate marketing, trademark a brand is a name given to a product and/or service such that it takes on an identity by itself.
Brand is the combination of elements (such as name, slogan, logo, communication, history, and reputation) that function as a distinctive and identifying mark of a business (and beyond). The brand (or brand) encapsulates image, values, meaning, etc. that differentiate it from competitors, determining the relationship with the target audience.
According to Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong in their Principles of Marketing, brand meaning is “everything that a product or service represents to consumers,” and this is “the firm’s most enduring asset, living longer than individual products and facilities.”
Brand is an intangible asset and, as Kotler and Armstrong claim, is the set of “consumers’ perceptions and feelings about a product and its performance.”
From here we can already easily guess that we are all entitled to consider ourselves a brand.
However, not all of us are obligated to do so. Why does an athlete?
Because if not already because he/she is still early in his career, as a professional athlete he/she will soon be a public figure and everything about him and available to an audience will define who he/she is, the meaning and values of who he/she is, in other words it will define his/her image.
And it will establish a connection with his audience, his fans.
This connection, which is emotional, can be positive or negative and can also mean that we – the audience – trust, care about, or even love him/her!
What is an athlete’s brand?
It is the communication of his or her uniqueness: his or her sports activities, sports record, performance record, story, style, interests and beliefs, behaviors and values.
Why is it important for an athlete to know and manage his or her brand?
Whether he/she is training with teammates, competing at a race, giving a speech on stage, giving an interview to a journalist, or interviewing with a potential sponsoring company, he/she is making an impression: he/she is communicating his/her brand.
Some athletes dream of becoming famous or winning a gold medal at the Olympics, others just dream of having a good run in a sport without competitions.
By knowing his/her brand and making the impression he/she desires, he/she will find that he/she is able to get the opportunities he/she seeks and have a smoother and more satisfying path in sports and in life!
Why is this all about companies?
Well-designed brands (= well defined and adherent to unique identity, style, needs, desires, goals) can have an emotionalimpact on us as consumers and help create a kind of relationship between us and the brand (and the products or service with which it is associated).
The athlete as a brand with its own unique identity, its own meaning, values, and an emotional link with its fans can be a perfect representative (= testimonial) of another brand and reinforce that emotional link we just talked about.
We could somehow say that the combination of 1 brand + 1 other brand does not make 2 brands but a third “brand raised to the second,” very powerful and a vital part of an integrated and valuable marketing and communication plan for all kinds of companies, organizations, charities.
What is missing?
If we have already stepped forward and understood that we are a brand, what is missing is understanding what needs to be done to design that brand so that it is perceived exactly as we want it to be.
It is one of the most powerful tools for accessing the target market. It determines how fans, sponsors, and the professional sports world perceive the athlete and how they remember and recognize him or her.
It can be difficult for an up-and-coming athlete to stand out from the crowd. In addition, many parties are involved in building a solid personal brand and marketing strategy.
All elements must be considered, from the tangible, such as the logo, font choice and design, to the intangible, such as the brand promise (and in the company-testimonial pairing of two) and the constantly evolving person in his or her totality-as an athlete and as a human being.
Companies that need to devote a slice (larger or smaller) to sports marketing have a responsibility to help the athlete define their brand. Obviously it is a responsibility with a return and the return that makes the most sense for a company at the end of the fiscal year: the famous ROI.
Today, sports marketing and personal branding are a partnership that must be fostered and preserved, and to do so, many elements must be brought to bear:
the usual long-term vision, in fact more than that, it must resemble a dream, technical skills, the famous hard skills, a lot of experience in the field and a strategy that does not only consider sports marketing as an activity integrated with all the other marketing and communication activities but that starts from the investment on the athlete’s brand and supports him/her in his/her growth path.
It is for this reason that we at Sports&Beyond have decided to create a format dedicated to sportscompanies that wish to increase their ROI in sports marketing starting precisely from the investment in the human resource called athlete.
The Invisible Team participated again this year – the 6th in a row – at Southern Warriors, the Crossfit event in Monopoli, one of the coolest Italian events in this discipline.
By the side of an athlete who in the past editions collected two first places and a silver for his category and this time instead gave way to younger and ça va sans dire more performing athletes (read his concluding remarks on Instagram @mirkopriolatrainer).
Two (just saying) scattered post-event reflections that apply to all sporting events.
Those who practice Crossfit on a regular basis, even if only as an alternative to other physical activities for wellness and fitness, should attend a competition of this magnitude, either as an athlete or as an audience member, to benefit from the motivation and drive to raise the bar in their daily lives and invest in their sense of self-efficacy. Hence
-> let’s get inspired!
In-person sporting events (how I hate to specify!) continue to be an important time of inspiration for the audience (see above), confrontation for the athletes, and aggregation* for the community: competition leads to healthy rivalry, and even through rivalry beautiful friendships can be born. If we don’t value relationships, what else! Far from being foolish and underestimating the covid danger, let’s still try to find good solutions so that we don’t jeopardize such important moments and contexts again. Hence
-> let’s preserve sporting events!
The logistics of such a sporting event are a huge headache (I know from firsthand experience!) and usually the rewards are not enough to counterbalance the disruptions and discontents (unbelievable but mathematical!) of those who participate or those who watch. I would say it is worth applauding those who are committed and have the courage to invest resources in time, money and soul. Hence
-> yay for the organizers!
A sporting event that wants to aim high does not only think about the athletes but also thinks about its audience, and the first audience is the family&friends around the athlete. The clearly open and direct invitation to the family&friends with related “deluxe” treatment guarantee the athlete’s lifetime return to the event. In addition to the athletes’ natural families and cheerleaders, there is a potential audience that needs to be attracted, which is why it is important to find a way not to put up barriers and instead to open doors: the potential is outside, not inside the competition field. Hence
-> organizers, let’s think about it!
Rules and referees, in this case judges, are crucial to a competition. Their preparation and professionalism can make all the difference. There will be no competition that will make everyone go home happy, but even those who are unhappy with the result must be assured (and admit they are) that everything was done according to rules and correct judgment. In this case we are talking about judges who have done three days in an open competition field at +40°C and have shown no signs of letting up. Hence
-> chapeau to the judges!
After yet another behind-the-scenes experience, I confirm that an athlete’s invisible team must:
be phenomenal with logistics;
learn the race (in this case) program better than the Athlete (trust this is needed!!!);
adapt to every situation – e.g., 4 a.m. wake-up call, 2 full days in +40° without drinking so as not to go to the bathroom -;
always be there-behind, beside, in front of the Athlete-never letting him/her perceive it and be ready to appear instantly upon request;
keep morale high;
know how to use carrot and stick well (which sometimes means camouflaging stick as carrot and carrot as stick);
be able “breathe” the context and be prepared to analyze it, reframe it, and make it one’s own.
-> teams of invisibles, let’s equip and talk about it!
I witnessed a tirade – in fact more than one – by an Athlete who was evidently convinced that he would win and, from the first WOD (first competition), that he had suffered injustice (all verified and dissolved), which he then concluded with a fitting finale:
“No, I am not taking the picture with you! This WOD did not need skills but only luck!”
There it was a real disappointment to hear these words. I hope it was just a moment of outburst after three days of intense and tiring competition and the adrenaline swirling. I hope today with a cool mind he agrees with me that damn if luck is part of the game and not only in sports but in life! A reaction like that, to a moral gap that clearly needed to be bridged, has no justification anyway. Opponents on the field are comrades off the field – Crossfit demonstrates this well – and if family and/or life experiences have not taught humility, sport certainly does.
It is true that one can also continue not learning. Indeed, I always hope so! Vero is that my first thought at those words was, “Madonnasantaincoronata thankfully you are not one of my athletes.” There you go, thankfully not!
In our first meeting last year with Fiorani & C., we set a very specific goal:
To create distinctive communication for the brand in the sports world through a social media campaign featuring sportspeople as testimonials for Fiorani’s new “prêt-à-porter” products, which are fresh, balanced and ready-to-eat even for those who, like our athletes, can easily find themselves eating their meals in other than comfortable situations.
Being an entirely new experiment for the company, it was the case that we needed to think of a first step in the world of sports to create a replicable virtuous model.
That’s how we decided to start with an athlete, and we made the choice of Tamara Lunger, who would shortly be leaving with her motor home for the Tamara Tour Spain to climb the highest mountains in Spain. What better occasion?
Strategy and communication plan shared and coordinated with the company, Tamara’s availability and the authenticity of the content above all else led, less than a year into the collaboration, to being able to announce an outstanding result!
The company has reached new heights with our athlete, achieving an important recognition:
during the 14th Tespi Awards at CIBUS International Food Exhibition 2022 (FiereParma) Fiorani & C. was awarded for:
Best new media campaign “Social campaign with testimonial Tamara Lunger.”
We thank the company for the trust and congratulate them on the award!