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SPORT - INTERVIEW

Interview with Olympic and World Champion Biathlete Tiril Eckhoff

Biathlon is an excellent sport that combines skiing and shooting at the snowy track. I had the opportunity to interview Olympic gold medalist and World champion biathlete Tiril Eckhoff about her career and the importance of individual sponsorship in biathlon.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Tiril Eckhoff - Courtesy of Sandnes Garn

Tiril Eckhoff - Courtesy of Sandnes Garn

SPORT - INTERVIEW

by Meryem Aksoy

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In 1990, Tiril Eckhoff was born in Baerum, Norway. She had the natural talent to become a successful biathlete and she combined her talent with training and construct a successful career step by step. Biathlon is not a sport that only the fastest biathletes win, to reach the highest level, biathletes have to balance their speed and calm. Tiril Eckhoff, who is aware of this, has decorated her career with Biathlon World Cup, World Championships and Olympic Games gold medals, and she is ready to this season for more success. I had the chance to interview Tiril Eckhoff and I asked about her career and her opinions about the importance of individual sponsorship in biathlon.

Tiril Eckhoff

Tiril Eckhoff - © Manzoni/NordicFocus

Tiril, how did you step into your successful career? Who encouraged you?

I definitely got it from family - my siblings were competing on a high international level - but they are some years older than me so we never competed against each other. They inspired me more than encouraged me - I wanted to be better than them.

I would like to learn more about your life, could you tell us about yourself? Who is Tiril Eckhoff?

My life is my passion and my passion is luckily my business (or job) - and this job is really exciting, but also the most time-consuming substance in my life. Luckily I have the best team around me, so I can focus on my sportive progression, but also allow time for other hobbies, boyfriend, family and generally a balanced life. In short, I would say that I am a very active person. My vacations normally go to destinations of activities like ski touring, surfing or mountaineering. I actually brought my ski touring gear for the World Cup’s in the Alps last year, so I would take advantage of the good snow and mountains.

Tiril Eckhoff

Tiril Eckhoff - © NordicFocus

You have won championships in many national and international competitions, including the World Championships and Winter Olympic Games. Could you tell us about your achievements?

Biathlon is a very challenging sport where things can change just in a few seconds. If you feel out of rhythm while shooting in a competition, it can throw you from fighting for a medal to be one of the last to finish the race. So it really is a fight to overcome the downsides (because they will be there) and enjoy the up’s - because you can not take them for granted.

Biathlon is not like any other individual professional sport, you are competing together with your national team. What are the advantages of being a member of the national team?

On the sportive side, being on the team is a great advantage in so many ways. We are pushing each other to progress, learning from one another, but the social aspect is also very important - that we are having fun while dedicating so many hours to this sport.

I think the financial structure is a bit different from country to country. I am 100% dependent on close cooperations with the industry and other personal sponsors to live from this sport.

Tiril Eckhoff

Tiril Eckhoff - © Manzoni/NordicFocus

What is the best way to attract sponsors' attention?

Best advise: do good in your sport and find out who you want to be! I have learned that it is important to invest time and thought into who I want to be as a “brand” and have a plan of what is the right way for that “brand” to get attention. My manager and I have worked on this quite a while and it is so nice to be me and not try to be someone else just for the attention. When you have that dialed, you can start to build on your fan base through social media, TV, interviews etc.

You are competing with your national team suits. How do you make your sponsors' brands visible throughout the season?

We do have 3 logo placements we can offer personal sponsors, besides ski’s, boots, poles & eyewear. Besides "in action visibility" we use Instagram quite a bit + press conferences where it fits.

Tiril Eckhoff

Tiril Eckhoff - © Manzoni/NordicFocus

What do sponsors expect and demand from biathletes?

Depends on what company you are talking about. Some want to drive awareness, others can be in for internal motivation or even develop products together and drives sales directly. I have learned that it is important to know your partners' interest early to develop a valuable cooperation for both sides.

In your career, when did you first attract sponsors' attention? How did you do this?

I would say that the attention came with my stronger performance - and most after I collected medals in the 2014 Olympics. I did work with some people helping me here and there, but it was not really a solid structure around it before I started working with my current manager in 2017.

Tiril Eckhoff

Tiril Eckhoff - Courtesy of Sandnes Garn

Could you tell us about your sponsors? What are the brands that you collaborate with?

Sandnes Garn is a long-term partner of mine. Their business is yarn and knitting patterns for home knitting and I design patterns and products together with them. The knitting trend has really grown the last years so this has been a very cool cooperation outside of my sport.

Synsam is a Nordic Optic chain and a close partner of mine. They really help me with the right optics and work with me on visual training.

Bravida is a really innovative company giving life to buildings. They do energy, water, heating, cooling, ventilation, and security for small and big buildings in Norway and Sweden. They have really worked hard on delivering innovative products for smart houses, charging for electronic cars and further. I am good friends with the CEO and I do my best to help them with my knowledge of health to reduce sick leave.

Swix is a Norwegian based company producing the best ski poles ever - so I am working close with them focused on that product.

Fischer has the best skis – and I need fast skis to win more ;)

A-Circle is a “performance boost” company I am working close with for my mental training. My sport brings a lot of ups and downs - so I am 100% dependent on a strong mindset.

BMW is luckily the car partner of our international federation and national federation. Very happy to have the opportunity to drive comfortable with so many travels.

Tiril Eckhoff

Tiril Eckhoff - © Vegard Breie

How many different platforms do you represent your sponsors throughout the year?

Mainly through competitions, social media, interviews, and campaigns.

What are your expectations from your sponsors?

Before we start working together I need to know that our expectations and values have a good match. I also expect them to be professional in their job - and I must say that I am very happy with my current situation.

What are you paying attention to when a new brand contacted you about sponsorship?

I am so lucky that my manager do the first steps of screening, brand fit, and investigations - so I can focus more on getting better at my sport. I have to be honest that I am not a marketer or business professional with a long education in that area - so I respect these tasks as a profession with the need for specialists. But I try to learn from everything and not just sit back and let things happen. It has been key for me to team up with the best people to complete my team.

Tiril Eckhoff

Tiril Eckhoff - © BillyBonkers / Norges Skiskytterforbund

What are the main factors that affect the beginning and continuity of successful sponsorship?

I believe in mutual interests, professional approach, good communication and strong performances from both sides.

Do you have any advice for biathletes who want to pursue a professional career?

Work hard and have fun! It is much easier to be good at something you like doing.

How can our readers follow you?

They can follow me on my Instagram @tirileckhoff or watch some of the biathlon world cup’s this winter, live or on TV.

What is next for you?

My contest season is starting very soon (end of November), but I am actually planning to do a cross country ski sprint before we start - just to test my ski’s properly and get into the mode.

Thank you Tiril for this enjoyable interview.

For more information, please visit the website of Tiril Eckhoff





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