Red's Dawn: Gerard Faces Two Distinct Paths After Winning Gold
U.S. snowboarder Red Gerard "could become one of the more recognizable American athletes" coming out of the Pyeongchang Games after his Gold Medal-win in the snowboard slopestyle, but a "lifetime of Olympic glory may not be" for him, according to Brian Costa of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Performing tricks "for digital snowboard films ... has become increasingly lucrative and attractive for many riders." Sage Kotsenburg, who won Gold in the slopestyle event at the '14 Sochi Games, now "makes a living" appearing in these videos, and Gerard has "already shot two such films himself." Most Olympic snowboarders outside of Shaun White do not land "lucrative endorsement deals." However, the "evolution of digital media has enabled many snowboarders to essentially become online video stars." Gerard could "have his fun and earn enough of a living making films and still maintain enough of a competitive schedule to return to the Olympics." Evolution Management & Marketing's Ryan Runke, who reps Gerard, said that his client likely will try to balance both "for at least another four or five years." Runke noted that making the videos does not provide the "sort of mainstream exposure and sponsor interest that an Olympic gold medal does." Costa noted Gerard was "scheduled to leave Korea for a series of television appearances and photo shoots" in L.A. and N.Y this week before "returning to compete in the Olympic big air contest" next week (WSJ.com, 2/13).
PLAYING THE WAITING GAME: FOX BUSINESS' Thomas Barrabi notes it "could be years" before Gerard's "newfound fame translates into a major boost for his wallet." Given the "niche popularity of winter sports and the four-year Olympic cycle, Gerard will need to build on his gold medal-winning campaign to earn the crossover stardom" that White has achieved. Univ. of North Carolina marketing professor Jonathan Jensen said, “There was a time when one gold medal could solidify an athlete financially from an endorsement perspective, but I don’t think that is the case any longer. It’s so difficult to break through the clutter today." Barrabi notes U.S. winter sports athletes historically have "seldom achieved mainstream marketing success," with White and skier Lindsey Vonn serving as the "rare exceptions." While Gerard is "just gaining mainstream America’s attention," he came to Pyeongchang with a "strong group of corporate sponsors that includes" Mountain Dew, Oakley, Comcast, Ice Breakers and Burton snowboards (FOXBUSINESS.com, 2/13). Gerard when asked what his dream sponsor would be, said, "I would love to partner with Chipotle. I love eating there more than ever and I would be so honored to represent them" ("Closing Bell," CNBC, 2/12).
FOLLOW ME: In Colorado, Antonio Olivero noted Gerard gained approximately 91,000 Instagram followers in the 24 hours "after he won the snowboard slopestyle gold medal." Gerard said that entering the contest he had "around 50,000 followers, and by early Sunday evening" that number "crept up to 141,000" (ASPEN TIMES, 2/13).