SBJ/November 13 - 19, 2006/This Weeks News

WMG reels in skateboarding star

Ryan Sheckler, the 16-year-old skateboarding phenom, has signed with Steve Astephen and Wasserman Media Group.

The deal delivers WMG and Astephen, who represents action sports stars Dave Mirra and Travis Pastrana, one of the biggest rising stars in the action sports world.

Sixteen-year-old Ryan Sheckler
will have a marketing plan designed
by Steve Astephen.

“Ryan has the potential to be as big a star as we’ve seen in action sports, especially because the platform has grown so much over the years for him to perform on,” said Wade Martin, general manager of the Dew Action Sports Tour. “He’s arguably the best park skateboarder, he’s young, he’s good looking and he’s very marketing savvy for someone his age.”

Astephen, a partner with WMG, said he plans to design a long-term marketing plan that aligns Sheckler with companies that are authentic. He’ll also be looking to help develop businesses owned by the skateboarder.

“We have a lot of athletes like Tony Hawk and Dave Mirra who hit the demographic companies want perfectly,” Astephen said, “but he is that demographic.”

Sheckler was represented by Octagon agent Circe Wallace, who wrote in an e-mail that losing a client after years of hard work is a difficult aspect of the business. Octagon remains dedicated to action sports in the future, she wrote, adding, “We wish Ryan good luck in the future.”

X Games general manager Chris Stiepock praised Sheckler’s move to WMG, saying that many national advertisers look to Astephen, founder of The Familie, one of the first action sports agencies, when they want to get involved with skateboarders or BMX riders.

“Ryan’s at a critical point in his career,” Stiepock said. “The deals he cuts over the next two years are going to be his lifelong deals if he cuts them right. [Partnering with WMG] is a good match.”

Sheckler, who won X Games gold at age 13 and this year clinched back-to-back Dew Cups in park skateboarding, becomes increasingly popular each year with fans. At the Dew Tour stop in Orlando this year, teenage girls wore homemade “Sheckler for President” T-shirts and screamed when he came out for an athlete signing.

Sheckler is used to the attention. He appeared on “20/20” when he was 11 and has been featured in an episode of “MTV Cribs.” He has made commercials for Gogurt, Frosted Flakes and Sony. His sponsors include Red Bull, Oakley, Amp’d Mobile, Volcom and a series of other endemic companies.

The only thing that could hold Sheckler back from joining the company of Pastrana and Shaun White atop the action sports world, Martin said, is his chosen skateboarding discipline: park.

“It will help in many circles because it’s core,” Martin said, “but to a mainstream audience it will always struggle to be as exciting as vert. If he adds vert, he’d be huge.”

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