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Volume 21 No. 6
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Plugged In: Michael Spencer, Wasserman Media Group

A former competitive mogul skier, Michael Spencer became an agent just as skiers began migrating from the mountain to the terrain park. He landed his first freeskiing client, Simon Dumont, in 2003, and he’s been working with freeskiing athletes ever since. In 2008, he became a co-founder of the Association of Freeskiing Professionals, which played an integral role in getting the sport onto the Olympic program. Freeskiing will make its debut with halfpipe and slopestyle competitions at the Sochi Games, and Spencer, an executive with Wasserman Media Group, will be there.

There will be a large audience watching this. The question is: How do you capture that audience afterward? My thought is that our group as a whole really needs to bond together and create new opportunities to tell the story and continue to engage fans. How we do that, I’m not sure, but we have to do that.

On freeskiing joining the Olympics vs. snowboarding joining in 1998: It’s very different. In ’98, the X Games had only been around two or three years. Now, with snowboarding being in X Games as long as it has and it being in the Olympics as long it has, there’s already a larger audience tuned in to freeskiing.

How to measure that?: If an American wins halfpipe or slopestyle, we’ll be able to tell based on the corporate demand and media demand afterward.

How is that demand in advance of the Games?:
The media demand is there, without a doubt. USA Today and others have taken an interest in sending writers to [freeskiing’s] U.S. Grand Prix events. The corporate demand hasn’t been as good as I thought it would be, but the corporate demand for freeskiers was already great. ... I thought [freeskiers] might be bombarded with opportunities because it’s a new sport and it’s skiing, but I’ve heard they had so many other sponsors that [new sponsors] were afraid they wouldn’t have access to those athletes.

On Tanner Hall, Simon Dumont and the Olympics: The sport of halfpipe was elevated by Tanner (age 30) and Simon (27), no question. The days of turning on X Games and watching them go head to head, people loved that. ... Tanner [who opted not to compete in Sochi] will be missed, but Simon’s still in a good spot to be there. He started at 14 and has been at every X Games since ski superpipe was added. Hopefully, he can make it.

— By Tripp Mickle