Reflecting on Sochi at USSA Partner Summit 2014


Olympic gold medalists Ted Ligety, Kaitlyn Farrington and Maddie Bowman at the 2014 Partner Summit. USSA

Olympic gold medalists Ted Ligety, Kaitlyn Farrington and Maddie Bowman at the 2014 Partner Summit. USSA

PARK CITY, Utah — With 17 medals to speak of after last season’s Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, USSA’s marketing team claimed a win Thursday at the Center of Excellence in Park City during the organization’s annual Partner Summit.

For the third straight year, Chief Marketing Officer Mike Jaquet led the discussion before more than 200 partners at USSA headquarters. In the last few years the organization has sought to stoke enthusiasm for the upcoming Games, but this summer it reflected on public success stories of its athletes from a media and marketing standpoint.

Among those attending the summit were 11 of the 17 medalists, including gold medalists Ted Ligety, Sage Kotsenburg, Joss Christensen, David Wise, Maddie Bowman and Kaitlyn Farrington. Tactfully interviewed by skier/sportscaster Chris Davenport, each athlete gleefully reflected on their winning runs from Sochi, Kotsenburg easily garnering the most laughs in that process.

USSA Chairman Dexter Paine opened the meeting by introducing President and CEO Tiger Shaw, who presided over his first Partner Summit in that capacity.

“We as an organization have an opportunity to lead this sport internationally, and with your support, I think we can make a real difference in where it goes over the next decade,” said Paine. “In terms of Sochi … we had eight gold medals and 17 total medals, really the star governing body of the USOC, and it was because of the hard work of everyone in this sport. Finally, it was a big year for USSA. After 18 years of Bill Marolt’s leadership — leadership that was marked by incredible athletic success, organizational success and growth — we hired a new CEO.”

Shaw praised the organization as a whole for the hard work that went into preparing for Sochi, particularly the work of USSA VP of Athletics Luke Bodensteiner, who was responsible for mapping out housing and training accommodations for the athletes in Russia.

“Bodensteiner traveled to Sochi, I think, eight times prior to the actual Games,” reflected Shaw. “Two months before the Olympics, he discovered that the hotel he had lined up (for the athletes) would not be finished. Luckily, they were able to identify another hotel, but the problem was that two weeks prior to the Olympics, there was no front desk, there was no furniture and many of the rooms weren’t finished.

“They put in an amazing effort to work on that place 24 hours a day, and Luke got there and helped them and worked with all the people to get permits, and literally as the athletes were landing in Sochi, Luke was working to get a certificate of occupancy.”

Jaquet was next to ascend the podium, gladly re-touting the organization’s medal count at the Games and announcing several major partnership renewals, including Putnam Investments, Paul Mitchell, Tempur-Pedic, Kellogg’s and the Sacramento Kings (yes, the basketball team), which is taking a stake in the Grand Prix.

Jaquet also announced 18 hours of planned television on NBC for next season (without time buys) and 35 hours of coverage on NBCSN. USSA leveraged its success to make a media rights acquisition from the European Broadcast Union to gain exclusive American broadcast and streaming rights for the 2015 and 2017 World Championships. This spring, the organization announced the most extensive coverage ever of a World Championships in the USA with live broadcast and streaming coverage of every event at the Vail/Beaver Creek World Championships this February on NBC, NBCSN and Universal Sports.

The talks coincided with a video conference presentation by Brett Goodman, senior VP of strategic relations for NBC Olympics.

It wasn’t all about looking back to Sochi. Vice President of Events Calum Clark concluded the meeting by discussing major upcoming events, including the 2017 Audi FIS Alpine World Cup Finals in Aspen and the 2019 World Championships in freestyle, freeskiing and snowboarding in Park City, which were recently awarded by the FIS. Of course, the upcoming World Alpine Ski Championships in Beaver Creek were also a point of great emphasis. For each major upcoming event, a panel of athletes and resort representatives were asked to comment on the significance for their sports and local communities.

“The five year plan,” said Clark, “we knew that we had to come out of Sochi with a great plan. We knew the team was going to have great success and Sochi would change the profile of our sport with new sports coming in. … Over these next five years, we are choosing highlights that are in different sports at iconic venues and amazing destination resorts.”

USSA Partner Summit 2014 concluded in an appropriately western fashion with an evening of celebration at the Dierks Bentley show at the base of Deer Valley. It was a nice slice of Americana to say the least.

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