Wanted: America's next winter sports superstar
By Keith Weir
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The absence of injured skier Lindsey Vonn and the shock dethroning of snowboarder Shaun White have created a gaping hole for a new American sporting superstar to fill and grab sponsors' gold from Sochi.
The Olympics give huge exposure to athletes from beyond America's staple sports of basketball, football and baseball, but that window is open only briefly and failure means a swift return to relative obscurity.
"America is looking for somebody to emerge and it needs to be in one of the high profile sports or someone who has an exceptionally good story," said Charles R. Taylor, professor of marketing at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.
"America is looking for that next superstar."
Vonn and White fitted the bill in Vancouver four years ago.
Vonn's glamorous image and triumph in the downhill and made her a hot property for companies such as Rolex, Red Bull and Procter & Gamble and she is worth a reported $3 million.
Her relationship with golfer Tiger Woods has only added to her celebrity status.
White, once nicknamed "The Flying Tomato" because of his long ginger locks, has used success in the Olympics to become an iconic figure for rebellious teenagers around the world, building a fortune estimated at around $20 million. Continued...