Avia Invests in Multisport

NEW YORK — Multisport races are hot and growing — and Avia is expanding along with it.

The company, a division of Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based American Sporting Goods, began refocusing on the triathlon and multisport/endurance sport market two years ago, according to Julie Vieselmeyer, field marketing manager for Avia.

“[Triathletes] like a brand that focuses a little more on them, and one they feel they can accomplish their goals with,” she said.

According to Vieselmeyer, the brand’s heritage in the sport (including relationships with legendary triathletes Julie Moss, Alessandro Alessandri and Scott Tinley) has been an inspiration as they’ve expanded tri-specific product and boosted their commitments to race sponsorship and team athletes.

Early in November, the brand added Saul Raisin to its roster. Raisin, a former pro cyclist who suffered a near-death crash in 2006, founded the Raisin Hope Foundation, which benefits fellow survivors of traumatic brain injuries. After running the New York marathon in Avia’s Avi-Bolt style, Raisin will compete at the Avia Wildflower Triathlon in May 2009 and aims to compete in the 2009 Ironman Hawaii in October.

And earlier this month, Avia announced it would partner with TeamTBB, a professional group for triathlon and bike sports, as well as the operator of the Bike Boutique franchise, to supply training and racing footwear for all TeamTBB athletes in 2009. In addition, Brett Sutton, the organization’s coach, will work with Avia’s designers on new footwear designs, and Avia shoes will be sold at all Bike Boutique locations.

Being enmeshed in the multisport world could pay dividends as triathlon and its related races gain even more prominence. “[Before], when I said I did triathlon, people would look at me like I was crazy,” Vieselmeyer said. “Now mainstream people know what it is.”

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