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Under Armour Founder, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank Friday morning announced the company has extended its sponsorship with U.S. Speedskating though '22 despite the suits used at the Sochi Games becoming the center of controversy. The U.S. team has yet to medal going into the final weekend of the Games, and many people have blamed UA's Mach 39 suits for the disappointing results. Plank acknowledged the company has "had a lot happening over the last week" and UA's goal in announcing the extension was "really quieting the noise" around the controversy. Plank: "What we want to do is make sure about this one particular sport that we're to dust ourselves off, get up and we're going to come back bigger and stronger than we've ever been before." CNBC's Scott Wapner noted the timing of the new deal "seems peculiar" and asked, "Why now is this happening? Is this to make the controversy go away? Did you get good terms on this deal because you're coming out now?" Plank: "We don't want the story going any longer." He added, "We doubled down -- literally -- our deal because what I didn't want it to come down to was a negotiation. So we said our current deal, we've put so much money (into the new deal), this will be a no-brainer for you. It wasn't a PR play as much as it was a cultural play" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 2/21).
PART OF A WITCH HUNT: Plank said that the "much-maligned suit ... should never have been victimized." Plank: "It was a bit of a witch hunt that began to build. The suit became the witch." He added, "This brand was dragged through the mud. There was a lot of conjecture and speculation, but none of it based on fact" (USA TODAY, 2/21). Plank described the criticism as being "hard," saying, "People are taking shots at your company and there's nothing you can do about it." He noted the company's brand is not damaged and said, "This is one part of the story, but this is certainly not the story. It's a bit more of the sideshow of what it's become than the main event." Plank: "There were definitely people looking for answers, and so the witch wound up being the suit. I thought there was a lot of hype built around it, especially in today's world of social media and how fast stories can move. It all of a sudden became emphatic that the suit was a problem when we knew really well mathematically that we had empirical evidence that we felt the suit was strong. Our opinion became, 'Look, our job is to outfit you, put you in the best advantage way we can with the best products in the world and let athletes go perform.' When that doesn't happen, we usually have alternatives. In this one, I think we had a Plan A and a Plan B. Lessons learned from this, I wish we had a Plan C as well because there were still things we didn't think it would get to this level, this crescendo it seems to have come to" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 2/21).
FEELING DEMORALIZED? USA TODAY's Bruce Horovitz writes it is a "bit early to assess the fallout" from the Mach 39 controversy, but Plank "insists there's been no immediate decline in Under Armour retail sales." The company's stock price also is "virtually unchanged from what it was about one week ago." Horovitz: "But how do you measure a company's self-esteem? That's hard." Plank said that it was "particularly hard at a previously scheduled town hall meeting at the company's Baltimore headquarters this week when a perplexed employee asked Plank: 'What did we do wrong?'" Plank "reminded the employees in the room that Under Armour products are top-notch." He said, "I asked them to believe in themselves" (USA TODAY, 2/21).
ORGANIZATION WANTS THOROUGH REVIEW: U.S. Speedskating President Mike Plant said the NGB plans to bring in outside experts and consultants and undertake a review of its preparation for the Sochi Games. "We're saying, 'Let's do a deep dive into this,'" Plant said. "We can't do it internally. We have to bring in external resources." Plant said that the organization will bring in sports scientists and sports physiologists, as well as speedskating greats like Bonnie Blair. Collectively, they will evaluate what went wrong at the Sochi Games (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer). For more, see SBD/SBJ's Olympic blog.
The USOC is considering relaxing its enforcement of Rule 40, a rule that prevents non-Olympic sponsors from associating with Olympians before, during and after a Games. IOC Dir of TV & Marketing Services Timo Lumme indicated the organization has plans to evaluate Rule 40 after the Sochi Games, and the USOC is supportive of making changes to the rule's enforcement. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said the organization feels that it can protect the commercial interests of Olympic sponsors while also giving non-competing sponsors of athletes opportunities to highlight their support of Olympians. "If you look at the vast majority of our Olympic athletes, they have 16 days every four years to have their brand front and center," Blackmun said. "We would like to find more ways for them to have commercial opportunities without ambushing corporate sponsors. We'd like to have an open dialogue about that." Blackmun said some of the changes the USOC would like to include would be allowing non-competing sponsors like Head skis, which sponsors Ted Ligety, to congratulate the athlete they support after they compete. "It's an open question (how that would work)," Blackmun said. "If there's an ad that doesn't have Olympic marks, images or terminology and doesn't cause any confusion in the eyes of a consumer about whether the sponsor is behind the athlete or the Olympics, then we should consider that."
MAJOR CHANGE IN USOC'S STANCE: This new position is a major change from the one the USOC held for the better part of the last three decades. Historically, it touted Rule 40 so much that athletes even scrub sponsors from their websites before the Olympics begin. U.S. sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross and a number of other athletes attacked Rule 40 on Twitter and at a press conference before the '12 London Games. The athletes' position was that the sponsors who support them year-round should be able to support them when they are competing in their most high-profile event, even if those sponsors are not official Olympic partners. The IOC and USOC have been talking about changing Rule 40 in some way ever since then. However, doing so will not be easy. "The challenge here is it's so subjective," Blackmun said. "If you look at an ad that doesn't use Olympic marks but clearly is Olympic ambush, that's not right and we want to protect our sponsors. But if an athlete has a long-term relationship with a company and they want to continue that and not put it on hold, that's something we need to have a conversation about."
Islanders C John Tavares is "done for the NHL season with a knee injury suffered in the Olympics," and Islanders GM Garth Snow is "not keeping his frustration to himself," according to Arthur Staple of NEWSDAY. Snow said, "Are the IIHF or IOC going to reimburse our season-ticket holders now? It's a joke. They want all the benefits from NHL players playing in the Olympics and don't want to pay when our best player gets hurt. This is probably the biggest reason why NHL players shouldn't be in the Olympics. ... It could have happened to anyone; it just happened to be us that lost our best player." Tavares lead the Islanders and ranks third in the NHL in points this season. Staple notes Snow prior to the Games "did express his displeasure when Kyle Okposo was left off the U.S. roster, but the GM most certainly was defending one of his top players rather than genuinely advocating for Okposo's inclusion." Snow on Thursday added that he "isn't upset with Tavares or any of the other NHL players who went to Sochi." He said, "I don't begrudge the players. I wore my country's jersey and I know how much every guy wants to represent his country. But NHL players just shouldn't be over there. There's too much at stake" (NEWSDAY, 2/21). In Boston, Eric Wilbur wrote under the header, "Tavares Could Be The Poster Boy For The NHL's Decision To Pull Out Of The Olympics." Tavares' injury "could have serious ramifications on what the league decides" for the '18 Pyeongchang Games. Wilbur: "You can bet Islanders owner Charles Wang will have some negative comments to go in line with what Flyers owner Ed Snider had to say earlier this month" (BOSTON.com, 2/20).
INJURY REPORT: ESPN N.Y.'s Katie Strang noted Tavares is "the latest player from the league to get injured in Russia." The Panthers "sent just two players to Sochi, and both got banged up" -- C Aleksander Barkov is "expected to be out for about a month with a knee injury he got while playing for Finland," while LW Tomas Kopecky is "out indefinitely after getting elbowed in the head in a game for Slovakia." Rangers RW Mats Zuccarello had a "hand injury that ruled him out of Norway's finale against Russia," and Red Wings LW Henrik Zetterberg while playing for Sweden "aggravated a preexisting back injury ... after his Sochi Games opener and is out indefinitely" (ESPNNY.com, 2/20). In N.Y., Botte & Lorenzo note Rangers coach Alain Vigneault "was a bit more diplomatic" than Snow when speaking Thursday about Zuccarello's injury. Vigneault said, "Every four years players get an opportunity to represent their country. It’s something that some people never get the opportunity to do. Those are the risks that come with the game." He added, "It’s unfortunate, but it happened to Mats and hopefully it won’t be that long, and those are the risks that come with the game" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/21). Red Wings GM Ken Holland said that he still "wants the Olympics and the NHL together." But SPORTING NEWS' Ben Valentine wondered, "Will his tune change if Detroit ... misses the playoffs as a result of Zetterberg missing time? Unlike Snow's Islanders, Red Wings fans have plenty to be upset about" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 2/20).
BETTMAN NOT TIPPING HIS HAND: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman sat down with NBC's Al Michaels live in-studio Thursday and acknowledged the Olympic hockey tournament has been “terrific," but reiterated he was uncertain of future league participation in the event. He said, “It's a real balancing act. Coming to the Olympics is a lot of fun when you're here and the hockey is fun. … But it requires us to shut the season down in the middle. It's a break in momentum.” He added, “Everything I've heard about the day-to-day existence of being here is the facilities have been terrific" (NBCSN, 2/20). Rangers C Brad Richards said he believes there is "probably a better chance they don’t want to send" players to the '18 Pyeongchang Games. Richards: "I don’t know if that will happen. The union wants to send players. I’ve played in it, it’s a dream come true to be an Olympian. Shutting down your sport is a tough thing to do." Richards said that when the union met to discuss the Sochi Games, players across the board "were in favor of participating, even those who weren’t likely to compete in Russia" (N.Y. POST, 2/21).
HOCKEY ENTHUSIASTS: In Buffalo, Bucky Gleason notes he has had a "long-standing opinion that the NHL shouldn't participate in the Olympics when the Winter Games are held overseas," but he admits he "was wrong." He writes the Sochi tournament "has been fabulous." Gleason: "For a few days, I was holding steady with the idea that the United States' win over Russia was a mirage, just one game that ended in dramatic fashion with a shootout capturing our attention. But the entertainment continued" (BUFFALO NEWS, 2/21). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes it is "hard to witness the exuberance around Olympic hockey and not feel like something significant would be lost" if the NHL did not participate (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/21). In Detroit, Drew Sharp wrote it is "short-sighted thinking, but the owners don’t understand how valuable these two weeks are to the league -- especially as it pertains to further growing a fan base in the United States." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is "crazy if he thinks orchestrating a NHL World Cup-like competition for two weeks in the middle of the 2018 regular season would garner the same passion as participating in the Olympics" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/20). In Phoenix, Sarah McLellan writes the "cons make sense," as the NHL "interrupts its season at a time when it's competing for viewership with only one professional league, the NBA -- and sends its players sometimes multiple time zones away, where they risk injury." But the reasons "to play are just as noteworthy." The free publicity "can't be overstated," the Olympics provide "a level of exposure the NHL craves, and the players are the best selling point" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/21).
NOT GETTING THE JOB DONE: In Pittsburgh, Bob Smizik wrote under the header, "NHL Should Pass On Future Olympics." There is "little to be gained and much to be lost with such involvement." Even if the Olympic hockey tournament was "injury free, NHL participation is just a bad idea." The idea that the Olympics "help sell the sport of hockey, which is the primary reason for the NHL's involvement, is not necessarily true." There is "scant indication this surge of interest carries over." People watching the U.S. play Russia or Canada "are not likely to tune in San Jose and Phoenix on some Tuesday night in November unless they were previously inclined to do so" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/20).
NBC finished with a 12.2 rating and 20.2 million viewers for primetime Sochi Games coverage on Wednesday, marking the best Winter Olympic audience for the second Wednesday since the ’02 Salt Lake City Games. Coverage on Tuesday was highlighted by the ladies' figure skating short program and Ted Ligety winning the Gold Medal in the men’s giant slalom. Also airing were the Gold Medal finals for women’s bobsled and men's parallel giant slalom. NBC’s Wednesday night rating was up 3% from an 11.9 for the same night at the ’10 Vancouver Games and up 22% from a 10.0 during the ’06 Turin Games. Through 13 nights from Sochi, NBC is averaging a 13.0 rating, down 8% from ’10, but up 5% from ’06. Meanwhile, USA Network averaged 1.9 million viewers for the U.S.-Czech Republic men’s hockey quarterfinal on Wednesday afternoon. MSNBC averaged 480,000 viewers for the Canada-Latvia quarterfinal (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). In L.A., Scott Collins notes the Olympic competition helped push Fox' "American Idol" to "some all-time ratings lows for a Wednesday show this week." The episode "featured performances from the Top 10 boys," and the rating was the show's "worst-ever Wednesday number" among adults 18-49. The 10 million viewers who tuned in "made it the least-watched 'Idol' during the traditional September through May TV season" (L.A. TIMES, 2/21).
WINTER OLYMPICS PRIMETIME RATINGS TREND (EXCLUDES OPENING THURSDAY)'14 (Sochi)'10 (Vancouver)'06 (Turin)'02 (Salt Lake)
13th Day (Wednesday)12.211.910.019.5 12th Day (Tuesday)11.212.615.522.3 11th Day (Monday)13.812.513.617.1 10th Day (Sunday)22.214.171.1247.1 9th Day (Saturday)9.614.711.314.0 8th Day (Friday)11.013.411.215.8 7th Day (Thursday)13.414.511.917.6 6th Day (Wednesday)12.116.711.317.5 5th Day (Tuesday)13.712.211.318.5 4th Day (Monday)12.814.212.819.6 3rd Day (Sunday)14.414.313.317.6 2nd Day (Saturday)13.914.013.517.1 Opening Ceremony17.017.312.825.5 13-NIGHT AVG.13.014.112.418.6
SHORT-LIVED RECORD? NBC Sports on Thursday generated 1.2 million unique users for its digital stream of the Olympic women’s ice hockey Gold Medal game between the U.S. and Canada, the second-largest audience for any sporting event in the history of NBC Sports Digital, behind only the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl XLVI two years ago. That Super Bowl drew 2.1 million unique users. The hockey game also drew 34.9 million minutes of consumption. The streaming audience figures from Thursday likely will be challenged, if not surpassed, by Friday's U.S.-Canada men’s semifinal Olympic hockey game. Meanwhile, the CBC set its own steaming record for the event. The CBC's audience of 325,000 unique users on mobile and desktop devices is the highest digital audience ever for any live event in network history. Given Canada's total population of about 35 million, the digital audience represented nearly 1% of the entire country. NBC's number of 1.2 million uniques for yesterday’s game, while certainly historic in its own right, comparatively represented about 0.3% of the U.S. total population of about 315 million (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
TIME FOR A SWITCH? In L.A., Steven Zeitchik wrote NBC's figure skating broadcasters Tom Hammond, Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic are "perhaps the most challenged announcing team at the Games." During Thursday's coverage of the women's free skate, they were "in full effect, alternating between opaque descriptions of the scoring and the kind of platitudes that seem to have little to do with any sport." Hamilton "can have the occasional insight, when he’s not vaguely talking about how someone 'fought for' a jump." But Hammond and Bezic "offered as much analysis as you’d expect from a docile Notre Dame football commentator and a woman who can hear cardiac melodies." Zeitchik: "NBC, can we get Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski already?" (LATIMES.com, 2/20). Also in L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes NBCSN's live coverage with Weir, Lipinksi and Terry Gannon was a "flamboyantly high point for the network." Hoffarth: "Maybe it’s time to sub out Tom Hammond, Scott Hamilton, Sandra Bezic and Tracy Wilson if a younger, livelier demo is what you’re seeking" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 2/21).
The advertising winners of the Sochi Games "managed to both harness the feel-good nature of the Olympics and convey a message about their products," while the losers "failed to make memorable ads or worse, made an unfavorable brand impression to the millions of people watching," according to Mae Anderson of the AP. Medal winners in the ad game include Procter & Gamble, which "won points early with its feel-good ad 'Pick Them Back Up.'" The spot is a "part of its popular 'Thank You Mom' campaign that shows moms supporting young athletes when they fall down." Kontera Senior VP/Products & Marketing Ammiel Kamon said, "They won by getting out early." Anderson noted Visa was "able to respond quickly on Facebook when its athletes won gold medals, and that paid off." A photo mosaic tribute to Gold Medal-winning U.S. ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White "has received 54,000 likes and nearly 3,000 shares." Another for Gold Medal-winning U.S. freeskier David Wise "received 39,000 likes and more than 1,600 shares." Meanwhile, the brands "going home empty-handed" include Under Armour. It is unclear whether the UA speedskating suit "had anything to do with the team’s performance, and some experts say the flap is unlikely to hurt domestic sales of its core products such as shoes and T-shirts." But it was "a blow to the brand because it came in front of a global audience right at the time when Under Armour is seeking to expand internationally." Meanwhile, McDonald's was "limping out of the gate from the start." In addition to its #CheerstoSochi, campaign, the QSR's TV spots "failed to impress." One ad that shows "Olympic champions biting their medals and comparing that to people biting Chicken McNuggets didn't resonate with consumers" (AP, 2/20).
COOKIE MONSTER: The GLOBE & MAIL's Susan Krashinsky notes Mondelez Canada this year signed a new sponsorship with the COC, and the company has "undertaken an unprecedented effort to win over Canadian viewers tuned in ... not just on television, but on 'second screens.'" After the Canadian women's hockey team tied the Gold Medal game at 2-2 with seconds left in regulation Thursday, DraftFCB Creative Group Head Jeff Hilts "started sketching." Moments earlier, the agency had "sent out a tweet calling the game 'a nail-biter' (and encouraging people to bite into a cookie instead)." Sensing a "turnaround might be in the works, he wrote up a new post," reading, "Recipe for gold: 1 part skill, 1 part heart, 1 part awesome comeback" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/21).
NO COFFEE FOR YOU: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Sonne & Troianovski noted after news of NBC's private Starbucks went public, the baristas that NBC had been "paying to staff it have been doubling as security personnel, handing over steaming Starbucks cups only after ascertaining that recipients don't intend to leave NBC offices." After the story went public, NBC "coffee enthusiasts showed up at their much-loved private Starbucks and found a new warning sign." The sign read in capital letters, "Please enjoy your Starbucks within NBC space only. Do not leave NBC space with your Starbucks cup" (WSJ.com, 2/20).
ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Thursday night acknowledged that a viral video posted by U.S. luger Kate Hansen on Wednesday that appears to show a wolf walking down the hallway near her room in the Olympic Village was a hoax concocted by his show. The video included the #SochiProblems hashtag, and Kimmel noted "within minutes" of Hansen posting the video on Twitter and YouTube, almost "every news and sports website had a story on it." Kimmel: "Even Weather.com had a story on it, in case you needed your four-day wolf forecast. ... The media went nuts, which is what I was hoping for, and it got a lot of coverage." He noted Hansen "let us have control of her Twitter account to do this." Hansen appeared on the broadcast live from Sochi via satellite and said, "There was a little bit more backlash than I thought there would be. But it was all worth it in the end." Hansen said after posting the video, she did not want to bring it up with her fellow athletes "because that's not cool, that's not how you play it.' Hansen: "So I just kind of laid low, but then I started hearing people talk around the building and security started freaking out because technically it was a breach within athlete safety. So it kind of went a little crazy over here." Kimmel noted the show built a replica of Hansen's dorm hallway to shoot the video. Kimmel said to Hansen, "Would you consider bringing a live bear to the Closing Ceremony?" Hansen: "Let me see what I can find" ("Jimmy Kimmel Live," ABC, 2/20). NBC's "Today" aired the video Thursday, prompting the net's Willie Geist on Friday to say, "Yesterday we were had by the great Jimmy Kimmel." He added, "In fairness, we called Kate yesterday, before the show, and asked her about this. She said, 'It was me.' She said, 'I thought it was a dog, and it might have been a wolf.' She said, 'It was sketchy either way.' She confirmed the story" ("Today," NBC, 2/21).
TAKING THINGS IN STRIDE: IOC Dir of Communications Mark Adams said of the video, "It made me kind of laugh as an individual, not as an IOC spokesman. I don't think there's any harm done. I don't think it's anything serious." SOCOG VP/Communications Alexandra Kosterina: "It's their business if they want to do that. It's OK. People are having fun" (AP, 2/21). But USA Luge spokesperson Sandy Caligiore in an e-mail wrote, "I can tell you that our organization is not happy with the incident. Sochi problems? Sochi fail? That's not USA Luge speaking" (USATODAY.com, 2/21).
With the Sochi Games nearing its end, several of the medal-winning U.S. athletes have returned home and started making the late-night talk show rounds. CBS' "Late Show" continued its week-long Olympic celebration on Thursday, welcoming slopestyle skiers Joss Christensen, Gus Kenworthy and Nick Goepper after hosting Gold Medal-winning snowboarders Sage Kotsenburg and Kaitlyn Farrington. CBS' David Letterman noted the three swept the podium in the event, which made its Olympic debut at Sochi, and said, "These sports that came from extreme activities have really put a boost of excitement into the Olympics. It's just craziness." Kenworthy said of slopestyle, "It wasn't really that long ago the sports (arrived). It's come a long a way in not a lot of time." Letterman added, "The attention that you guys have generated for the sport has just been fantastic." Kenworthy was one of the first athletes to address the plight of the stray dogs in Sochi, noting, "There is just a ton of stray dogs in Sochi. ... Some of the dogs were maybe at one point in a home and then abandoned and some of them were just born on the streets. But there are just a lot of stray dogs." Christensen said of the heights they achieve in slopestyle, "We scare ourselves, that's for sure. It’s worth it though." Letterman displayed the Corn Flakes box featuring the three skiers on the front and asked, "You guys eat this stuff?" Kenworthy: "It's all I eat now" ("Late Show," CBS, 2/20).
STILL STOKED: Kotsenburg appeared on TBS' "Conan" Thursday night, with host Conan O'Brien noting after Kotsenburg sat down on-stage, "Not many people walk out with a Gold Medal." Kotsenburg is from Park City, Utah, and O'Brien noted he was there on vacation while Kotsenburg was winning his Gold Medal. O'Brien: "Everybody knew you. I think you owe some of them money." Kotsenburg: "I owe a lot of them a lot of bets I lost." Kotsenburg said Park City is so "supportive of athletes and there's a lot of Olympians that are coming from there, so definitely a pretty sick vibe there. Everyone's stoked." At this point, O'Brien said, "Let's talk about this 'stoked' thing, because you were using the word 'stoked' a lot when you were in … Sochi and to the Russians that means something else and they were confused." Kotsenburg: "I use 'stoked' a lot and I guess it means you're drunk in Russian. So I was like, 'Yeah, I was so stoked at the top of the run,' and they're just like, 'This guy's drunk? What a bone move: Underage, drunk'" ("Conan," TBS, 2/20).
OLD MAN WINTER: U.S. skier Bode Miller made a visit to Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" Thursday night, with host Stephen Colbert asking if the Sochi Games were Miller's last. Miller said, "I don't know. I brought home the Bronze in my wife's favorite event, so I think maybe this will be the time to hang it up." Colbert replied, "At the very least, go for the curling team." Miller said he would "have to change it up a little." Colbert: "You don't have to go as fast down the ice and that sport comes with a bar." Colbert said of Miller, "You grew up in a cabin in New Hampshire with no running water and no electricity. Is that a true story or did NBC make that up for your montage?" Laughing, Miller said, "I grew up on 57th Street." Colbert noted Miller is the "oldest athlete to ever medal in alpine skiing. How old are you, 78, 79?" Miller said, "I turn 50 in 15 years" ("The Colbert Report," Comedy Central, 2/20).
NBC's BOB COSTAS said SOCOG organizers did a "good job" with the set-up of the Games. Costas: "These are VLADIMIR PUTIN's Games, make no mistake about that. But within that, having said all that, the venues have been terrific. Logistically, things have run well. The Athletes Village, people rave about. All the athletes say they've had a good time, the visitors say they've had a good time. So I'd say in that respect, it's been a success" ("Today," NBC, 2/21). However, in N.Y., Filip Bondy notes he has covered 13 Olympics and that Sochi come in at No. 12, behind only the '96 Atlanta Games. Bondy notes Sochi's "bad food, bad accommodations [and] sterile Olympic Park" as marks against the Games and praises its "efficient transport system" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/21).
TAKING THE HIGH ROAD: Several members of the Silver Medal-winning U.S. women's hockey team appeared on NBC's "Today" Friday and discussed their dramatic loss to Canada. U.S. F JULIE CHU said the rivalry between the U.S. and Canada has "fostered a great women's hockey environment that's allowed us to grow the sport." Chu: "Yesterday, there are so many people that became women hockey fans because of it and it's because it's intense, it’s passionate, it's fast and definitely one where when people watch they'll get enamored by how everyone on the ice where's their hearts on their sleeves" ("Today," NBC, 2/21).
SLIDE AWAY: In Baltimore, Mike Klingaman profiled U.S. Bobsled & Skeleton Federation BOD member TED OFFIT and notes during the Sochi Games, he has been the "middle-aged man with a Team USA jacket on his back and a cowbell in hand that he clangs wildly at the start of every bobsled race." Offit serves as legal counsel and fund raiser for the NGB, which stands to be his "legacy when he completes his eight-year term" in '15. He also has been a "steady touchstone who keeps board members on task during meetings." Offit was "the only one without a past in either" bobsled or skeleton when he joined the board in '07 (Baltimore SUN, 2/21).
CITIZENSHIP SHUFFLE: In Boston, Shira Springer notes Estonian skier WARREN CUMMINGS SMITH III is actually "a Boston-area athlete representing a 'foreign' country" at the Games. Similarly, skier JULIA MARINO of Winchester, Mass., "competed as Paraguay’s first Winter Olympian." She was "born in the small Paraguayan village of Bahia Negra, adopted by an American couple, and raised in suburban Boston." Smith and others who "find Olympic opportunities with dual citizenship see the Sochi Games as a way to gain valuable competitive experience." There also are "many other athletes from non-Alpine nations who see a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/21).
Each day during the Winter Games, THE DAILY offers our take on the business performances of some of the people, sponsors, broadcasters and other entities around Sochi.
GOLD: U.S.-CANADA RIVALRY -- For the past two Olympics, both the men's and women's hockey teams for Team USA and Team Canada have met in the medal round. The women provided an instant classic Gold Medal match Thursday, which Canada won 3-2 in overtime, and the men are duking it out in the semifinals Friday after a similar 3-2 OT victory by Canada for Gold in '10. These types of clashes are what make the Olympics great.
SILVER: AD CREATIVE -- The brand advertising around the Sochi Games has been fantastic, from TD Ameritrade's "It Adds Up" and Procter & Gamble's "Thank you, Mom," to Kellogg's, AT&T, Chobani, BP and others. Time and time again we have seen spots during the Games that have been inspiring, emotional, informative, insightful -- all the things that make for good advertising. Congratulations all around.
BRONZE: VISA -- Speaking of advertising, Visa focused its signature Olympic congratulatory campaign during Sochi on social media outlets, and the result has been 15 million views across YouTube and Facebook, and 14 million interactions such as retweets and other engagements worldwide. The immediacy of it has been stunning and educational.
TIN: U.S. FIGURE SKATING -- After winning a medal in ladies' singles in every Olympics from '68-'06, the U.S. once again failed to put anyone on the podium for the second straight Games. We realize the Americans won Gold in ice dancing and got the Bronze in the new team event, but ladies' singles is the marquee figure-skating competition of the Winter Games -- if not the top event in the winter, period. Time to start a new medal streak in Pyeongchang.
SportsBusiness Daily/Journal have converted their On The Ground blog into a comprehensive, daily website devoted to the Sochi Games and the business behind it. The site is free and runs through Monday, Feb. 24, the day after the Closing Ceremony. The site also can be accessed through the On The Ground link on SportsBusinessDaily.com. SBJ Olympics writer Tripp Mickle is in Sochi providing news updates, people profiles and personal insights from the Games. Entries currently on the blog include:
* U.S. Speedskating to undergo review after dismal Games
* Departing Coke exec McCune discusses 16 years of Olympic memories
* White, Kenworthy rise on Twitter; Oshie adds 158,000 followers
* Getty Images photographer breaks down Olympic hockey assignment