The U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding recognized its partners last week, as they announced the recipients of marketing awards presented at the 2010 Partner Summit for corporate partners, suppliers, licensees, resort partners and selected media partners. Visa, Telluride, Spyder and Audi were honored for their support and dedication to the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding.
“We are honored to have our partners come to the Center of Excellence for the Summit,” said the Team’s Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Andrew Judelson. “They are a big part of our success as a Team of athletes and an organization. This was a wonderful opportunity for the organization and athletes to show our appreciation. The USSA is proud to recognize Visa, Telluride, Spyder and Audi, along with all our partners for their support of the U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding.”
Nearly 100 USSA partners joined Olympic medalists including 2010 Olympic alpine gold and bronze medalist Lindsey Vonn, three-time Olympic nordic combined silver medalist Johnny Spillane, and 2006 Olympic champ and two-time Audi FIS World Cup champ Ted Ligety in the two-day conference. Participants celebrated the 21 medal success of U.S. skiers and snowboarders in Vancouver and learned how the USSA will leverage that success to grow its business in the coming years.
Visa was recognized for Best Integration of Athletes. Visa’s GO WORLD campaign centered on spirit, sport and athletes, showcasing eight U.S. Ski Team and U.S. Snowboarding athletes. The GO WORLD campaign was unique from other advertisements in capturing of the passion of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and the use of striking tones paired with dramatic still photography and moving images.
“For Visa it really begins and ends with the athletes,” said Visa’s Head of Olympic Management and Global Sponsorship Matt Kauffman, in accepting the award. “People are passionate about the athletes. We used that as the core around our Olympic and our U.S. Ski Team platforms. We all love the sport and have passion for the sport. But it’s also about business. This has to deliver for us – and it does.”
Colorado’s Telluride Ski Area, named Rookie Partner of the Year, was a new event site for U.S. Snowboarding in 2009-10, hosting the snowboarding World Cup, which served as a pivotal Olympic qualifying event for top athletes like Olympic champion Seth Wescott. The resort made the major commitment to host an elite event and provided exclusive pre-season training for snowboardcross and ski cross athletes over the last two years. According to USSA Vice President, Events Calum Clark, “Telluride delivered a world class event as if the resort had been organizing World Cups for years.”
“Our partnership with the USSA began very organically,” said Telluride’s Executive Director of Resort Services Elizabeth Howe. “It’s been a great ride. The USSA is an incredible partner. Everyone has just been absolutely fantastic.”
Longtime alpine uniforming partner Spyder, was awarded Best Unique Licensed Product. In preparation for the 2009-10 Olympic season, Spyder worked with two-time Olympic medalist Lindsey Vonn to create distinctive racing suits for each stop on the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup circuit to honor her back-to-back Audi FIS World Cup overall titles. Capitalizing on Vonn’s success, Spyder created a limited supply of the race suits for the USSA to market and sell. Each suit was numbered, signed and stamped as limited edition.
“The athletes are everything to us, as a brand and company,” said Spyder’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing Russ Rowan. “One thing you will notice is that the brands don’t make the athletes, the athletes make the brands and that’s very relevant to us. Basically we look at it as our company is the lab for the athletes. We design what they want then go sell it.”
Audi was recognized for Best Multi-Platform Activation. The U.S. Ski Team official vehicle partner was recognized for its innovative approach to a documentary film, Truth in Motion, which aired nationally on the eve of the 2010 Olympics. Audi committed to a large scale project, sending a film crew to Chile, Saas-Fee, Switzerland and Soelden, Austria to film training and racing footage. The film took an in-depth look at the stories behind the scenes as the men’s and women’s alpine team prepared for the Olympic season.
In addition to airing primetime on NBC, the film also ran on Universal Sports and other cable networks. Promotion featured significant Web and social media platform outreach, including Hulu and NBCOlympics.com. It was also distributed free on iTunes.
In addition to learning more about the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s plans to grow its business with partners, the two-day conference was a showcase for the new Center of Excellence training and education center for partners. The facility opened to athletes a year ago and served a key role in the lead-up to the Olympics. The Center of Excellence is the training base for elite athletes, as well as providing sport research and education to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association’s 425 local clubs nationwide.