The 2014 Winter Olympic Games kick off in just over one month. Long Track competition starts on February 8th. Short Track begins on February 10th. For the next six or seven weeks the sport of inline speed skating is going to get more TV, newspaper, and social media coverage in the United States than it has likely ever received in the past and will receive for at least the next four years.
Proud inliners like Heather Richardson, Brittany Bowe, and Joey Mantia are already garnering lots of attention for their Long Track medal chances. Short Track will have no shortage of inliners who could podium in Sochi – J.R. Celski, Eddy Alvarez, Emily Scott, and Jessica Smith. The inliners are certainly proud of their roots. Saturday Joey Mantia put a point on it when he shared Michael Cheek’s Facebook status update, ‘I hope in the next month every rink in the country has a sign that says “Olympic dreams start here”.’ Inline clubs and skaters need to be prepared to take advantage of the unprecedented media coverage our sport is going to receive in the coming weeks.
Here are some ideas to help take advantage of the Sochi Bounce!
Make sure your club’s website and social media presence are up to date, including practice dates, times, and locations.
- As Michael Cheek suggests, put up signs in your rink, “Olympic Dreams Start Here!”
- Have club fliers or post cards available that can be taken home and distributed away from the rink or trail.
- Be present – at the rink or on the trail. Skaters need to be seen, before and after the Games.
- Contact local news outlets early and often. The NBC family of stations will broadcast the Sochi Games and should be the most receptive to broadcasting related local content.
- Have a pitch ready.
- USARS provides a press release kit that includes suggestions and links on how to best contact local media outlets. Their Organizing Speed Skating pamphlet also provides some useful talking points.
- If you or someone you know is capable of explaining the finer points of LT or ST competition and rules let local media outlets know they can contact the expert during the Games for a quote or commentary.
Focus on Newbies
- Add extra emphasis on practices for novice skaters from late February through March.
- Have an extra helmet or two available at practices.
- For inline to gain prominence everyone has to be a positive representative of the sport.
Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.