Worth Over $1.5 Million

Train WreckNovember 5, 200911

Here’s a langrenn.com article from a just a wee while back. It would be a mistake to let it slip by.

Petter Northug

(Original Source: langrenn.com 10-18-2009, translated by Patrick Stinson)

Petter Northug is on top as far as exposure value.

“This only shows that ‘the winner takes it all'”, says Manager of Sponsorships at [Norwegian Bank] DnB Nor, Jacob Lund, to Aftenposten.

Petter Northug is worth over $1.5 million in exposure value, shows a review by Synovate done on behalf of sponsors.

The triple world champion is by far the most valuable of the cross country skiers. Next on the list is Marit Bjørgen, who is worth over $500,000.

“When an athlete is worth the most, he also gets the most exposure. It’s quite natural,” Lund told the newspaper.

DnB Nor sponsors the entire [Norwegian] ski association through the Cresco brand.

“But the big profiles are important for the sponsors. You have to have a Petter Northug, a Emil Hegle Svendsen, a Andreas Thorkildesen. It is a matter of life and death for an association that it has profiles with appeal,” says Lund.

Ola Vigen Hattestad is worth over $300,000, and Kristin Størmer Steira $170,000.


Editorial Comment:

“It is a matter of life and death for an association that it has profiles with appeal.” – Jacob Lund

Almost everyone in Anchorage knows who Kikkan Randall is. She’s everywhere; TV, magazines, and yes, public busses.

This is an Olympic season, so the stakes are high because a gold medal at that particular little competition has got to be worth more than a few Subway Ads and a nice Subie. If (and by if, I mean when) Kikkan brings home the first Olympic gold medal, is it possible that some of those foreign skiers would consider heading over the pond for a piece of good ol’ Ameri-pie?

Remember David Beckham.

And then, remember him again.

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  • OldManWinter

    November 5, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    ‘profile with appeal’…Sounds like Northug to me! lol

    Attracting foreign racers is wishful thinking. You’re talking about European skiers in a sport that is dominated by Euros. What is the motivation for them to travel to North America when they don’t have to for top competition? We have had greater success at cycling internationally, and they have had limited success getting the top squads over here, and only for high-profile events.

  • Patrick Stinson

    November 5, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    Oh just throwing the idea of money-hungry euros out there looking to tap into the potentially larger commercial audience available over here. Beckham came over and got $250 million dollars as the most well-known footie player out there. He also started generating bad press for the team that was looking for good press.

  • OldManWinter

    November 5, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    I like the concept of it, but my reality is that the numbers I am familiar with don’t support it. I have the Lillehammer relay on video…That event drew 250,000+ spectators and at the time had one of the highest attendances for any Olympic event, ever. The Salt Lake City relay (I have that on tape as well) drew…what again? As I recall they couldn’t give away the tix. I could go on…The Calgary games, the Thunder Bay Worlds (lousy snow, I know…but still)…I think we have a very enthusiastic nordic population here in the States, but not the numbers for the financial support you suggest. Even Northug, for all his influence, is not the draw that Beckham continues to be. I would love to see it happen, but we aren’t there yet. Not even close.

  • Mike Trecker

    November 6, 2009 at 9:39 am

    The more important topic here is, what is Kikkan’s value? What is Andrew Newall’s and Kris Freeman’s and are they getting what they are worth? I have a feeling these top athletes need better representation in order to secure better sponsorship deals.

  • Tim Kelley

    November 6, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I agree with oldmanwinter – thinking that riches will come to an xc skier in the US is wishful thinking. Patrick – let’s take your example of an elite woman athlete in the winter sports mecca of Anchorage, AK. Say everyone knows her from ads, public appearances, media coverage, etc. Say she wins an Olympic medal. Is she showered in sponsorships and appearance money?

    Well, take the Alaska sweetheart snowboarder Rosey Fletcher. She is described by the above paragraph. She won a medal in Torino. That was a big deal. And it was a big deal in a sport that is way more popular in Alaska, the US and the world than xc ski racing. So according to Patrick logic she would be rich beyond her wildest imagination. Right? Maybe that is the case. But it’s funny if that is the case because right after the Olympics she went out and got a regular job working for the Municipality of Anchorage. So I get the impression that big money did not follow her medal win. Again, snowboarding is huge compared to xc ski racing. So unless xc skiing is the US equivalent of professional football, basketball or baseball, as it is in Norway – folks had better ski race for love of the sport alone and not aspirations of a big payoff.

  • Patrick Stinson

    November 6, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    OldManWinter: Yeah, I think you’re right.

    Tim: You’re right, but “showered in sponsorships and appearance money” and “rich beyond her wildest imagination” is not what I was getting at. Beckham is one of the most well-known athletes in the world, so a margin of error is faithfully implied.

    Personally, if I gave a damn about my performance I wouldn’t leave the competitive and cultural environment over there for anything. But, the numbers above are for the TOP Norwegian skiers, of all people. I wonder what it’s like being one of the many, many, many second-rate skiers. How many get by on $20,000 a year? Less? How many will never make any more?

    Moving on, I’m curious what the numbers would show for someone that markets his/herself as well as Kikkan Randall (she’s a little bit of a star in that regard alone…), and how that compares to someone over the pond. How fast is someone that has a comparable income as her? Conversely, how much is someone with a comparable performance resume making? How many of those (many more) second-rate Euros can kick the s-dex off of most of our skiers at US Nationals, and how much are they living off of? What do you think?

    I guess when Hell freezes over, there’ll also be so much snow that all those rich summer athletes will start skiing. Best guess is they’ll probably end up at the Curling Club though 🙂

    I want to note that I don’t want to dig into Kikkan’s personal information, even if that’s a conversation-killer.

  • Tim Kelley

    November 7, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Isolated markets find their own highmarks. When the market is globalized (which US xc skiing is not) then everyone’s performance resume would have similiar values. So, I think that you will find that top skiers with comparable performance resumes make more in the US. If Euros came to the US frequently to profit from US skiing money then the amount top US skiers made would likely drop. Earnings would become “globalized”. We have seen this already on a limited basis in Super Tour and Nationals when a particular Russian/Canadian comes and makes sure top US skiers make less money from winnings.

    Back in the 70’s a couple of top skiers in the US were making 6 figures when Euro skiers were making a pittance. So a few top US skiers getting more for their performance resume than Euros is nothing new or surprising

    Speaking of value … how do or would you or Mike T. quantify an xc skier’s value? In the business world a person’s value is usually based on the services or products the individual can provide based on supply and demand. The US elite xc skier business model is more or less based on the charity model – take the money, give little in return. So if you took the charity (free money) factor out … how much service could an elite xc skier provide and how would it be valued? How much would it be worth per year? Good luck with this homework assignment.

    Patrick – as far as marketing goes, it seems that you might be a little old fashioned. Effective marketing these days is usually done by reality “shock and awe”. Up and quit a governorship and get 1.4 million for writing a book in a month. Pretend your kid is caught in a runaway helium balloon so you can get on TV. Pretend you are a gifted stock trader and run a pyramid scheme. It’s crap like that which seems to draw the public’s attention and money these days. Not nice-person marking like the old days.

  • OldManWinter

    November 7, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Interesting question…how do you establish value? In my mind, anything of perceived value is only worth what you can get for it, and you can only get what you can negotiate. I think that is
    where the current ‘charity system’ lets our athletes down.

    Elsewhere in another forum I use the example of the NHL. We all know that we don’t have the best hockey players in the world, but you know they sell tickets to seats in cold rinks and they turn a nickel. You can’t convince me that hockey is more
    exciting than a tight biathlon race or nordic sprint. Don’t even get me started on NASCAR (I can’t wrap my head around that at all). Now, all those fans don’t play hockey or drive stock cars, but those sports float their collective boats with the income.
    I think the challenge is to create sufficient interest among skiers AND non-skiers in what we do, then the money will follow (I hope). Is the private team structure alone enough to do this? I can’t predict that, but I would be interested in seeing the results.

  • Patrick Stinson

    November 8, 2009 at 3:53 am

    Tim, OMW: Now we’re getting to the point that I failed to describe well enough the first time around. The examples NHL and Babikov taking advantage of the economic imbalance are apparent enough.

    I might be shooting off base here, but how about that new Seattle soccer team? They totally *synthesized* a club and *synthesized* what appears to be a devoted following by using a massive swag and ticket campaign. They hung green scarfs over street lamps for crying out loud, and what did they get? Ab entire stadium full of brand-spanking-new and (very) squeaky clean footy fans literally willing to pay to watch their team get the crap kicked out of them by a Euro team. I don’t follow “fotball” but I’ve never heard of any place over the pond pulling something like that. cash $$$ dollas

  • Tim Kelley

    November 8, 2009 at 11:33 am

    OK Patrick … you were given a homework assignment to try and determine the technique for valuation and a value number for top US skiers. I’m afraid your response was off-topic, random and failed miserably. Grade: F.

    So the question is – what is the value of a top US cross country skier. I’ll take a WAG (wild a** guess) at this problem. Let’s not use individuals or names – that’s not nice. So let’s shoot for the average value of the top US skiers (that would be 4 skiers that have proved they can score WC points). If top US skiers makes more than this value number, then they have a good deal going. If they make less, then they have a not-so-good deal going.

    I think you have to take out of consideration the amount the US Ski Team provides in support. That money comes from charitable sources. So it’s not directly a payment for value. I think you have to also take out winnings amounts, which are variable and are not directed to a particular skier when the amounts are established.

    What it then comes down to is the base value of a skier. That could be likely determined by direct and indirect values. The direct value is the amount the ski industry is willing to pay the skier for use of their products in races and representation of their products in ads and at industry events. Indirect value would be the value that organizations are willing to compensate the skier for services outside of the ski industry, such as: spokes-person duties, appearance fees and product endorsements.

    So here comes the WAG. I lick my finger and stick it into the air to see which way the winds are blowing in this challenged economy and say the average direct base value of a top US xc skier is 18K, indirect is 12K for a total of 30K. So that would mean if a top US skier excludes winning amounts and team support and the gets this amount of income, then they are getting average compensation for their value. If it’s more – then they are doing great. Less … oh well.

    Again – this is a WAG. If others think this number is off then let’s here what a more accurate number should be, and what your rationale is.

  • Mike Trecker

    November 9, 2009 at 11:02 am

    I asked the question in the first place because I don’t know the answer, not to make some kind of a point, I don’t know why I get the homework assignment. Here’s my excuse, I spend too much time on Sundays caring about a mediocre football team, so I neglected to finish my homework. Anyway Tim, not bad for a WAG.

    For some reason I would tend to rate the indirect value higher than the direct value. I also wouldn’t necessarily elevate the indirect value, but more likely would deflate the direct value that the ski industry would be willing to pay. The primary reason for this would be the fact that the bulk of ski industry marketing could and has been handled through European racers. The skis that Svan, Daehlie and Aalsgaard used have had plenty of influence on American sales. However, the indirect values that you mention, North American racers can achieve a higher level.

    For example: Even though I am a big fan of Becky Scott and the fact that she was on my brand Madshus, I am more impressed with her being the first North American Gold Medalist, a strong female, and an incredibly cool person. I believe her value was more in these indirect links than the basics of endorsing products in the ski industry.

    Chad Salmela mentioned in a somewhat parallel discussion that the German biathletes started to make more bank once they engaged the services of an athletic sports agent. That is what I’m suggesting above. Instead of us amateurs musing about this stuff, the pros in this field need to be recruited to help find the real value that can be marketed on their behalf. I know one person that has had a ton of experience in this area, Andy Gerlach. He was incredibly meticulous in tracking his program’s “impressions” as a means to sell sponsorships. I wonder if he might have some ideas or insight, or might even be employable as a sports agent?

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