I visited Lake Placid, NY for the first time last month and it was an amazing experience. The place where the famous 1980 Olympics occurred and my first real Olympic memories watching the hockey team and Eric Heiden with my Dad on TV, I remember jumping up and down with excitement. The arenas where those events took place aren’t glamorous, but the history just oozes from the walls. The town of Lake Placid on the other hand is very charming, like a Norman Rockwell painting.
But, we were really there to see one of the USA Bobsled & Skeleton World Cup Series races. An avid fan of anything sports related, it was a truly cool experience. I know nothing about either sport so I was in awe of everything, the speed, the cold, the spandex uniforms, the hollering at the start, the cow bells, something everyone should experience as a fan.
And as a marketer, because even as a tourist and a fan I always see through my marketing lens, I noticed each sled and their sponsor stickers, from BMW, to UnderArmour and Century 21 Real Estate and then a bunch of other smaller brands of course too. I had the chance to talk to some of the very humble athletes and they are truly thankful to their sponsors and know the importance of their relationships. For this sport doesn’t get a lot of attention and this sport isn’t sexy or glamorous or valued on airtime like others, but these athletes are just as dedicated to their sport, maybe even moreso.
See, they don’t have tracks/facilities in every major city, like other teams, they don’t have the deep pockets like other teams, they don’t even have teams like other teams, it’s not like soccer that you can play as a professional and get paid year round, these athletes train for the Olympics, that’s it, not for other big events, everyday they are training and traveling and sacrificing and trying to get people to pay attention so every two years they can possibly slide down a very fast, very hard, very cold track in front of an audience that only watches them in between every other sport. But for me, now this is the sport to watch in February, and I can’t wait!