America’s Mikaela Shiffrin’s bid for alpine skiing history will inspire young fans, but the brand may find it hard to shake as her sport battles for a bigger share of the sponsorship pie. No, experts say.
The two-time Olympic champion secured her 83rd World Cup victory on Tuesday, pushing former compatriot Lindsay Vonn to the women’s record in the giant slalom at the Italian resort town of Kronplatz.
She now surpasses Swedish men’s slalom great Ingemar Stenmark’s 86 World Cup wins to fully claim both men’s and women’s records.
But while she’s writing herself in the history books, that doesn’t mean sponsors will open the checkbook — even for the most marketable woman in alpine skiing.
“Commercial earnings for athletes in these sports did pretty well in the top 4, 5 and 6, then plummeted. Mikaela is far ahead of that,” Reuters.
“It’s not like being on a big professional sports team and having 32 players and being pretty good and making $10 million a year. That doesn’t happen in our sport.”
The 27-year-old has signed deals with brands like Barilla, Visa and Adidas. These brands would be the envy of most female athletes in the United States, where men’s professional sports account for the overwhelming share of spending.
But even Shiffrin failed to make it into Forbes magazine’s 2022 list of highest-paid female athletes. This list included many tennis and golf stars, but few from Winter’s world of sports, with the exception of China’s freestyle ski queen, Eileen Gu. .
Bob Dorfman, Sports Marketing Specialist and Creative Director at Pinnacle Advertising, said:
“Plus, alpine skiing now has to compete with freestyle skiing and snowboarding at the Olympics, which has attracted a younger fan base and created a cool new group of female athletes competing for endorsements.”
In the United States, Shiffrin has already surpassed the star power of 1998 Super-G Olympic champion Picabo Street, six-time Winter Olympic medalist Bode Miller, and even the sport’s past celebrities, including Vonn.
Yet she is vying for attention from an American audience that has shrugged off the sport of the Winter Olympics.
According to broadcaster NBCUniversal, primetime viewership for the Beijing Olympics was the lowest since the Olympics began broadcasting, with 11.4 million primetime viewers, down 42% from four years ago.
“Whenever a world leader in a sport like this appears to be approaching and easily surpassing the record held by Ingemar Stenmark…it’s a global story.
“And people gravitate toward sports because they know amazing things can be achieved.”