WL Insider: Welcome to Sochi

by Editorial

Washington Life’s ‘man on the scene’ dives into the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Russia.

By Doug Eldridge, DLE Agency

Sochi Adler International Airport greets athletes and guests for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. (Photo by rapidtravelchai via Flickr)

Sochi International Airport greets athletes and guests for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. (Photo by rapidtravelchai via Flickr)

On Friday, February 7, the ceremonial flame will be raised in Sochi, Russia, signifying the symbolic start of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

With over 2,500 athletes competing in 98 events across 7 sports and 15 disciplines, the Sochi Olympics will showcase the best winter sport athletes from around the world. The picturesque seaside town of Sochi features 10 different venues to host the competition — five Alpine venues and five coastal venues.

These venues will be put to good use when athletes, spectators and sporting enthusiasts descend upon this small seaside town by the thousands. The United States alone will field a record 230 athletes, which is the largest athlete delegation of any nation in the history of the Olympic Winter Games.

From a commercial standpoint, the Sochi Olympics are coming on the heels of the wildly popular 2012 London Games, which saw record-breaking Nielsen ratings in the United States. Expectation and attention have followed these games for a variety of reasons. First, at an estimated cost of over $50 billion, the Sochi Olympics are the most expensive in Olympic history. The Alpine and coastal venues are described as “world class” among host nation facilities, which says a lot given the quality of previous winter host nations. Second, the level of corporate interest and investment has increased in the wake of the London Games — commonly referred to as the “Olympic Effect” — and U.S. winter sport athletes now receive consistent visibility and mainstream pop-culture recognition outside of the Olympic year itself. Third, the American media landscape has been dominated recently by a series of non-sporting headlines, ranging from human rights concerns to national security interests.

For the athletes, these political headlines are ancillary at best. “Sure, there’s been a fair amount of coverage on these topics,” said 24-year-old U.S. Olympic ski jumper, Nick Fairall, from Andover, N.H. “But you’ve got to remember, most of us have been training for this opportunity for years; in my case, it’s a journey that began when I was only 2 years old and stood on skis for the first time. It’s literally been a life-long journey just to get here and have the honor of competing on behalf of the United Sates. My only job is to remain focused and compete to the best of my abilities.”

When it comes to maintaining focus during the chaotic run-in to the games, Fairall’s teammates echo his position. “There’s nothing on par with the Olympics in terms of honor and national pride,” said two-time U.S. Olympian and 2010 bronze medalist, Jordan Malone. “The Olympics are televised every two years, but for athletes they come every four which really means once in an athletic lifetime. When it comes to Sochi, all my energy and focus are channeled on the one and only thing that I can control: my performance.”

Three athletes from the Washington, D.C. region will be competing in Sochi, including medal contenders Ashley Wagner, Figure Skating (West Potomac High School); Ashley Caldwell, Freestyle Skiing (Ashburn, Va.); and Elana Meyers, Bobsled (George Washington University).

So while Washington analysts continue to dissect the political ramifications of the approaching Sochi Olympics, the athletes on Team USA remain steadfastly focused on “the opportunity of a lifetime.”

As Malone put it, “…we only see in six colors: red, white and blue, or gold, silver and bronze.”

Doug Eldridge is the managing partner of the DLE Agency, an integrated PR consulting firm, based out of Washington, DC. A lawyer by trade, Doug has represented athletes and personalities across the NFL NBA UCI IAAF FIFA Olympic, Action and Motor Sports landscape. His agency also provides communication and brand development strategies to emerging businesses and charitable organizations. Doug is also a frequent TV analyst on issues ranging from sports to legal to PR and has been featured on ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX FOX Business, FOX News, and NBC. He has three athletes competing in the Sochi Olympics.

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