Olympics: Mettle Wins Medals
In 2014, we won our first Olympic Medal as an agency--a come from behind silver in the Men's 5,000m Short Track Speed Skating Relay. It was an exhilarating race, marked by lead changes and crashes, but Jordan Malone and the U.S. Men pulled off the silver medal in what would be the lone podium appearance--across both short and long track speed skating--at the 2014 Olympics. "I cried my eyes out later that night," Jordan eventually said. "Not because of what I'd won, but because of how far I'd come and how much I'd overcome, just to be there."
Two years later, at the 2016 Rio Olympics, we were on-hand as the U.S. Women's Saber Fencing Team came from behind--largely on the back of Dagmara Wozniak's rebound performance--to claim the bronze medal in the team event. While the U.S. women fell short in their campaign for individual medals, their collective strength was undeniable and the palm-sized bronze medal was a testament to their perseverance. "This is a dream come true," said Dagmara. "Defeating others is one thing, defeating your own self-doubt is something entirely different. You can't achieve one without the other."
In 2018, Chris and Alexa Knierim helped Team USA earn the bronze medal in Figure Skating Team Event, at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Their short program moved the U.S. squad from 4th place up to 2nd overall and their free skate solidified the American medal contention with four events remaining. In the end, it was a dream come true for the married pairs team, who proudly claimed a medal in their Olympic debut. The Knierim's were the first married couple to compete and medal for Team USA at the Olympics in more than 20 years.
2018 PyeongChang Olympics
CHRIS, ALEXA & TUCKER
DLE had three Team USA athletes competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics, in PyeongChang, South Korea. Tucker West (R) made his second consecutive Olympic appearance in the Men's Luge. Chris (L) and Alexa Knierim (C) made their Olympic debut, as the lone U.S. Pairs figure skating team.
AKCK CLAIM BRONZE
TUCKER & TURN 9
Chris and Alexa Knierim earned a bronze medal in the Figure Skating Team Event. AKCK moved the U.S. from 4th to 2nd after their short program and then nailed their vaunted 'quad twist' during the free skate, to solidify the American push for the podium. In the end, Team USA held off a strong push from Italy and claimed a hard-fought bronze medal. "I'd say this is a dream come true, but in reality, it feels completely surreal," said Alexa. The Knierim's came back for the individual skate, but were not able to pull out the medal-winning performance they'd hoped. "We're grateful for this opportunity and happy with these results," said Chris.
Tucker West came into his second Olympics with a medal on his mind. In the four years since Sochi, the 22 year old, Ridgefield, CT native was ranked 9th in the world, had won multiple World Cup races, set track records, claimed a silver at World Championships and won the Team USA Athlete of the Month on three separate occasions. "I had the fastest start, but I didn't navigate Turn 9 like I needed to," said West. "The conditions were unbelievably cold [-8F] which impacted the ice and the way our sleds handled the surface." I'm disappointed because I definitely came here to win a medal, but I'm grateful to represent my country and I'm already hungry to reboot, refocus, and rebuild for next season."
2016 Rio Olympics
EICHFELD MAKES IT THREE
Rio 2016 marked the third consecutive Olympic Games for white water canoe athlete, Casey Eichfeld. The PA native--who lives and trains in Charlotte, NC--entered Rio as the reigning U.S. National Champion in the C1 (solo) and C2 (double) categories. After qualifying for the finals in the C1 in Rio, Eichfeld finished an agonizing 7th place after two gate penalties bumped him from a third place time (and bronze medal performance) down to a 7th place position. This came one year after a similar gate penalty at Word Championships bumped him from 1st (gold) down to 4th place. True to form, Casey took it in stride with a 100 watt smile.
HURLEY'S MAKE HISTORY
Few coaches had a more dominant Rio experience than Bruce Gemmell, whose star progeny Katie Ledecky continued to re-write the swimming record books. Ledecky won five medals in Rio--four gold, one silver--and became the first woman in Olympic history to claim the 200, 400, and 800m Freestyle events in a single Games. At just 19, she is coming into her prime years and Gemmell is largely credited with harnessing (and expanding) her dominance following her Olympic debut at London 2012, where she claimed gold in the 800m. Gemmell modified her training and in so doing, expanded her range to a level of dominance never seen in the pool.
Kelley and Courtney Hurley wrote another page in the Olympic history books, as the Texas sisters represented Team USA in the Team Epee competition. Rio marked the third Olympic appearance for Kelley and the second for her younger sister, Courtney. Both Hurley's won a bronze medal in the Team Epee event, in London, but injuries and a tough opening draw in Rio saw the siblings make an early and unfortunate exit from competition. Nonetheless, the Hurley's joined less than two dozen siblings in Olympic history who have: appeared at two or more Games together and won a medal in at least one of those Games.
NEE BLAZES LGBT TRAIL
SHU CIRCLES THE GLOBE
WOZNIAK WINS BRONZE
When Ashley Nee paddled out of the starting gate in Rio, it was literally the culmination of a life-long journey. The whitewater slalom kayaker was injured in 2008 and lost her spot at the Beijing Games. In 2012, she earned the lone starting position for Team USA, but then lost out on a tie-breaker to a teammate and had to watch the London Games from home. By 2016, Nee was refocused, rejuvenated, and recommitted to achieving her dream of representing Team USA at the Olympics. In so doing, Nee became one of the few openly gay athletes on the 550-member U.S. Olympic Team.
Howard Shu made his Olympic debut, in Rio. To appreciate the magnitude of his appearance, you must appreciate the path he took just to get there. The UCLA-alum traveled to more than 30 countries in 12 months in order to earn the requisite qualifying points (and corresponding world ranking) to secure the top-ranked U.S. Men's Singles position. In so doing, Shu showcased not only his brutal work ethic, but also his dry wit and engaging personality, as he graced the pages and airwaves of the Wall Street Journal, Esquire Magazine, BuzzFeed, NBC Sports, and NPR, just to name a few.
Dagmara Wozniak won a hard-fought bronze medal in the Women's Team Sabre competition at the Rio Games. The Hoboken, NJ native overcame injuries, adversity, and even overwhelming self-doubt to not only make the U.S. squad, but anchoring an overwhelming performance in the bronze medal final, where she swept all three sets and clinched the bronze medal for the American women. "I have overcome so much just to get here...now, to claim my first medal and to do it for my teammates, my family, my friends, and all the people who believed in me--even when I didn't believe in myself--this means more than I can put into words..."
2014 Sochi Olympics
In 2010, Nick Fairall (Andover, NH) had to watch the Vancouver Olympics on NBC. Four years later, he was the U.S. Olympic Trials Champion in the Men's Ski Jump and lead a young team of four jumpers to Sochi, Russia in what would be his Olympic debut. Despite windy conditions and warm air temperatures at the top of the Krasnaya Polyana jumping resort, Fairall made a solid debut. "This was just the beginning for me," said Fairall. "I am already thinking about the 2018 Games. The hardest part is just making it to the Olympics; once you're there and you get the jitters out, the next time you go, you go to bring home a medal."
The national media attention surrounding 18 year-old Tucker West heading into the Sochi Olympics was outdone, only by the coverage and interest the young Fairfield, CT luge slider drew while in the Olympic Park. As the youngest member of the U.S. luge team in Olympic history, West was already a stand-out in U.S. circles. Profiled on ESPN, NBC and CNN prior to the Games, West would find himself on the Today Show and GMA from Sochi, as his good looks and promising Olympic debut made him an immediate heart throb among U.S. fans. Marketers and media are already referring to West as one of the faces of 2018.
Few performances were as memorable as Jordan Malone and the U.S. Men's 5000m Relay Team, bringing home a silver medal on the last night of speed skating competition. Malone--who won a bronze medal in the same event at the 2010 Vancouver Games--was the veteran leader on the upstart U.S. team, which had inexplicably gone without a medal throughout the entire Sochi compeition. With U.S. hopes coming down to the last race on the last night, Malone lead the U.S. team to a breakaway silver medal in the relay. The Denton, TX native carried the U.S. and Texas flags around the rink on his final victory lap.
FAIRALL FLIES IN RUSSIA
WEST WINS OVER HEARTS
MALONE WINS SILVER
2012 London Olympics
London hosted the Olympic Games for the third time, in 2012. As the site of the 1908 and 1948 Games, Great Britain once again welcomed athletes from around the world to join hands in the spirit of sport. For those who have never experienced the Olympics in person, there is nothing quite like it. Nearly 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries descended upon the English capital for three weeks of competition. From the U.S. (who sent 530 athletes) to Gambia (who sent only 2) the Olympics are a barrier-breaking event that positions every athlete from every country on a level and unified field of play.
In 2012, Lehigh Valley resident, Bobby Lea qualified for his second consecutive U.S. Olympic team as a track cyclist. With the rabid popularity of cycling in Europe--and track cycling in the UK in particular--the stage was set for an explosive week of racing. An accomplished pro rider on the road, Lea's specialty on the track is the omnium. Known as the 'decathlon of cycling' the omnium is a grueling event consisting of six different disciplines, contested over two consecutive days. In the London velodrome world records fell and personal bests were set. Lea finished in a breakout 12th place for Team USA.
For athletes, brands and sports marketers alike, there is no greater stage than the summer Olympics. With global viewership consistently setting and surpassing record numbers every four years, media analysts had high hopes for the London games. In 2008, the Nielsen Corporation estimated that approximately 70% of the global population tuned in for the Beijing Games. In 2012, that record was eclipsed in the US, where 219.4 million Americans tuned in to watch the London Games, surpassing the 215 million that tuned in for Beijing, four years earlier, making it the highest viewed event in television history.