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Last week, The North Face (TNF) announced the launch of its “Athlete Development Program,” an initiative to diversify the often-insulated professional climbing (and outdoor-adventure) world.
“Today’s athlete recruitment process relies heavily on referrals, historically favoring those who are already well-connected and enjoy the privileges that allow them the time and resources to accelerate in their sport,” a spokesperson from TNF told Climbing. The Athlete Development Program, however, strives to remove these social barriers by introducing an online application portal—eliminating the need for network shmoozing. TNF says it will also prioritize athletes from “historically excluded or marginalized” groups to create a more inclusive outdoor community.
The program will provide 15-20 climbers, alpinists, skiers, snowboarders, and trail runners a two-year contract with TNF, providing expedition funding; apparel and equipment; education about the roles of a professional athlete (i.e. pitching expedition ideas for funding, how to engage with one’s community); and one-on-one mentorship with its more-established athletes for the duration of the contract. The program will begin with a three-month onboarding phase, followed by nine months of mentorship with a current team athlete, educational sessions, and the potential for additional collaboration opportunities with TNF.
Applicants must be 16 years of age or older and based in the United States to apply. The application period will remain open until May 19, 2022 and the successful athletes will be selected in September 2022. For more information, and to apply, please visit: https://www.thenorthface.com/about-us/athlete-development-program.html