As anyone who’s stepped onto a playing field or into a gym knows, Adidas the brand has produced some of the most popular sports apparel and equipment across the board, and since 1949, has been a major influence on athletes worldwide.
But even such a familiar face can still blaze a new trail, and back in Spring 2011, Adidas (the actual name is “adidas” with a lower-case “a”) launched a line of gear and apparel specifically for outdoor athletes — Adidas Outdoors.
The line is focused on high-performance apparel with a younger, more Euro-influenced style and fit. From the signature three stripes to bolder colors and more functional, tailored fits for extreme sports, Adidas Outdoors is unique in the marketplace.
Plus, in an effort to reach the right audience for their new products (some may call that audience “millenial”), Adidas has gathered some of the best adventure athletes across the globe in their Outdoor Sports Team.
The team pulls together successful climbers, mountain bikers, paddlers, canyoners, slackliners, hanggliders, and skiers from a huge range of backgrounds and nations, and places them each in the spotlight as champions of the outdoors and the image of Adidas. Most of these accomplished adventurers also represent a budding crowd new to the greater sports community. These athletes, many still students or freshly sprung from the nest, will ring in the next generation of outdoor leaders – and these youngins are looking pretty darn solid.
One of these is climber Sasha DiGiulian, already a U.S. National Champion, Pan-American Champion, and Female Overall World Champion at only 22 years old. In between breaking records and crushing the competition, she makes time to keep up with her education as a full-time student at Columbia University. Whew. But even though her lifestyle may sound utterly exhausting, Sasha couldn’t dream of a past or a future without her sport. Climbing, as well as the commitments and passions that come with it, has shaped her from the ground up.
“Climbing has taught me how to set goals, believe in myself, and to live my life with direction,” Sasha said in an exclusive interview with Blue Ridge Outdoors. “I have always felt whole with who I am due to finding my passion and living my life centered around it. Self confidence is one of the most important characteristics for people to have, and I believe that participation in sports brings self confidence.”
Being a part of the Adidas Outdoor Sports Team has opened a huge door for Sasha: “I have gained an incredible partnership. I have learned so much about business, relationships, and I have been able to aspire to my dreams.”
Adidas offers her a key opportunity to further her own career, but she also loves the exposure that her partnership with the brand brings to her sport. Quite simply, she finds that, “the involvement of larger companies in niche sports like climbing brings more attention, money, and involvement opportunities for the sport to grow,” and provides a major stepping stone for her passions to take center stage.
Adidas stands up for the little guy, whether it be a lesser-known sport like climbing or the younger athletes that participate in them. Sasha adamantly believes that outdoor sports are crucial because they reconnect youth with their roots and “reverse the digital transgression wrought by the media age”. Motions like those that Adidas has made pull outdoor sports into the spotlight and help adolescents enrich their lives with these positive elements that only a romp in the fresh air can inspire.
In the short time Adidas Outdoor has taken its first steps, the outdoor sports community has already felt the benefits of this developing relationship. Obscure mountain sports and their young athletes have gotten the chance to move into the mainstream and reach a wider audience. Hopefully these changes will serve as a challenge to other outdoor brands.
–Story by Lucie Hanes, University of Virginia senior and Blue Ridge Outdoors‘ one and only intern extraordinaire.