Story: A medal for Dongio

From Siberia for love

In the Upper Ticino, the Blenio Valley reserves unexpected emotions. Kilometers of trails for cross-country skiing and more. A region to visit all year round.

The ski poles used by Olympic champions are made in the Blenio Valley, under the close watch of the Adula and the Sosto. There are over 30 km of cross-country skiing trails around the new sports centre and lodge in Campra, while the unspoilt natural setting makes it worth a visit all year round.

THE CHARACTER

Tauf Khamitov, athlete, coach and KVplus founder

Tauf Khamitov, athlete, coach and KVplus founder
Ticino might resemble a monolith, but it has a rich and varied blood welling up inside it.

With his watchful eyes and precise movements, Tauf Khamitov pays close attention to everything happening around him. It is immediately apparent that all this is the result of self-denial and hard work, but what is most striking is his smiling countenance. He welcomes us to Dongio, in the Blenio Valley, at the headquarters of KVplus, a firm that manufactures and sells skiing and hiking equipment, particularly poles of all kinds. Tauf, who is an athlete, coach and P.E. teacher, set up his business over 20 years ago, never thinking that he would end up supplying ski poles to the likes of Dario Cologna. But life is rich in surprises, even for those who want to be the agent of their own destiny or, to cite our enterprising guest, for those who’d rather be a subject rather than an object. This proactive approach is precisely what led him to set up business in the Blenio Valley. Despite being far away and very different from his homeland, both places have something in common: cross-country skiing. 

THE FULL STORY


Campra, Valle di Blenio

Muffled silence, dormant woods, snow falling from the branches of the trees that resemble artistic installations and an ancestral contact between humans and nature. Cross-country skiing is demanding, but it is also synonymous with peace and tranquillity.

Tauf has spent half his life in Russia and half in Ticino, where he feels at home. Born in Omsk, in south-western Siberia, he has always loved sport, the real cornerstone of his life.

As a young man he was involved in sport alongside his studies, while as an adult it took him from competition to competition, ultimately bringing him to Campra, where he took part in a Continental Cup in 1992.

Campra, Valle di Blenio
Campra, Valle di Blenio

He returned again the following year, when it also brought him love: it was in Campra that the Siberian athlete met Valentina, whom he went on to marry. 

Campra, Valle di Blenio
Life is rich in surprises for those who’d rather be a subject rather than an object.
Campra, Valle di Blenio

Love for Valentina and love for the Sun Valley, which is so bright and peaceful, with gently rolling contours, yet also capable of concealing zones where the sun is not seen for months, making it perfect for cross-country skiing. Tauf has got to know Ticino gradually but thoroughly. He has been a cross-country coach, athlete and P.E. teacher, going on to start selling sports equipment, almost just for fun. 

Campra, Valle di Blenio
Pro tip
The MTB Snow Race in Campra, a mountain bike competition on the snow, is a fun and adrenaline-filled event not to be missed!
The Campra Alpine Lodge & Spa is ideal for relaxation. A spa with a view, a restaurant with a terrace and a cosy atmosphere.
The nature trail from Campra to Dötra allows you to discover the natural beauty of the Lukmanier region, a rich and extraordinary territory.

Was he spreading himself too thinly? Perhaps, but Tauf doesn’t like to rely on working for someone else. He began to cut down on certain activities, setting up KVplus and taking on the risk for himself.

Dongio, Valle di Blenio
Dongio, Valle di Blenio

“It’s important not to adopt closed strategies: you need to be aware of them, but when it comes to making decisions you have to be daring.” 

Dongio, Valle di Blenio

Tauf’s decision certainly hasn’t been a gamble. His firm employs a number of people, manufacturing and selling poles of all kinds, gloves, berets, footwear, clothing and accessories in Ticino and abroad. The KV+ brand is famous in over 20 countries, thanks in part to top-quality endorsers. The cross-country ski poles made in the Blenio Valley have also taken the Olympic champion Dario Cologna to victory. Passion, strength (both human and of nature) and a pinch of good luck: this is the winning combination. 

A combination of several factors leads to victory, while a blend of others is what makes the Blenio Valley beautiful. Tauf’s gaze reveals his love of these places, which are so convenient and close to everything, but also secluded and immersed in nature, in a perfect climate for outdoor sports: from cross-country skiing in winter to hiking and cycling throughout the rest of the year. 

Campra, Valle di Blenio
San Remigio, Dongio

Nature and landscapes, but also humans and their interventions: “Ticino might resemble a monolith, but it has a rich blood welling up inside it."

Greina, Bellinzonese e Alto Ticino

Ticino stands out for its traditions, architecture and history, which can often be experienced first hand along one of the many existing trails. When visiting the Blenio Valley, for example, you will come across the ruins of the Serravalle castle, pass through towns whose houses testify to the canton’s rural history and emigration, and even encounter historical militias, a living tradition that recalls the close ties between Ticino and Napoleon, particularly the use of Ticino’s militias in the Russian campaign.

“Most people only see these landscapes in magazines, but we have them on our doorsteps.”

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