SPORTS

Bobsled champion Kaillie Humphries one of lucky athletes able to cash in

03/05/2014 04:24 EST | Updated 05/05/2014 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Kaillie Humphries' first full day back in Canada included 18 interviews, a hair appointment, and a Calgary Flames game.

Life has yet to slow down for the Calgarian since she drove her bobsled to Olympic gold at the Sochi Olympics. She's one of the fortunate ones — an Olympic medallist who is making the most of her medal before the small window for endorsements and appearances is slammed shut.

More than a week after the curtain came down on the Olympics, Humphries' agent Kris Mychasiw said he's receiving some 20 emails a day with requests for appearances or product endorsements for the bobsledder, calling it the "craziest time" he's ever experienced with any athlete before or after a Games.

"The amount of attention the country has given her and how much they've warmed up to her is insane," Mychasiw said. "It's great to see it, that there's so much support now.

"But in six weeks from now, let's see what happens."

Athletes have a brief window to cash in on Olympic success, Mychasiw said, before the Games fade from Canada's collective memory. He originally set that window at five weeks for Humphries, but considering the traction she's getting is hopeful he can keep her in the public eye for three months.

It's three months to secure endorsements that could carry the 28-year-old through to the 2018 Olympics, and speaking engagements that can put money in her pocket for the months ahead when she has little time for anything but training.

Mychasiw said it's difficult to put a dollar value on an Olympic gold medal. It depends on what an athlete is willing to do.

"Some athletes will shut down their gold medal and go home, they're like 'Hey this is great, I've got my gold medal, I'm going to go do something else.' That's great, they've earned the right to do that," Mychasiw said.

"But the athletes willing to go the extra mile, just on speaking engagements alone, you could easily turn that into five, six figures. That's where it's more profitable. Once they've got those medals, if they can maintain the relevancy, go out and do the corporate speaking. That's where I see huge value in Kaillie. One: right now she's such a recognizable face, and two: she speaks and carries herself so well."

Humphries and brakeman Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I., were relative unknowns when they won Olympic gold in 2010 in Vancouver. They were the favourites four years later in Sochi, and the two capitalized on a messy run by the leading American team on the final run to claim gold.

Humphries' busy first day back in Canada started at 6 a.m. and, 18 interviews later, ended after the Flames game in Calgary that night. She then boarded a red-eye to Toronto, landing at 6:05 the next morning, and was on Canada AM at 7:45, the first of 13 interviews that day.

Twitter has been abuzz as well since Humphries tweeted: "How far can a tweet and an Olympic Gold Medal travel? Do you think 10,000 RTs can get me on @TheEllenShow?"

It had over 9,200 retweets as of Tuesday, and Mychasiw said a producer from the show reached out to him late last week.

There are no immediate plans for an appearance, but Mychasiw is hopeful, saying "That would represent the first amateur Canadian athlete to actually cross over to the U.S. market, to be on a mainstream U.S. show.

"If that works, we're going to do that and Kimmel," he added, laughing. "It's funny saying it, because I would never have assumed that any amateur athlete would get love across the border."

Among the myriad requests he's received for Humphries, there've been some weird ones. A Twitter feed of celebrity fingernails requested a picture of Humphries' nails.

"That's just creepy," Mychasiw said.

Humphries, with her long blonde hair that's shaved on one side, was already one of the most recognizable faces on the Canadian Olympic team. She was featured prominently in pre-Olympic ad campaigns and was fourth among Canadian athletes in Twitter activity — either retweets or mentions — during the Games behind hockey players PK Subban and Carey Price and moguls skier Alex Bilodeau. She was the only female in the top 10.

She's one of the fortunate athletes still enjoying the spotlight.

"Already in Quebec it's quiet," said Mychasiw, whose Sprint Management agency is based in Montreal. "It's unfortunate because Bilodeau is here, back to back (Olympic titles). And then you've got the two sisters, the Dufour-Lapointes (gold and silver moguls medallists Justine and Chloe). I don't see them anywhere in Quebec.

"With Kaillie it hasn't slowed down yet and I think that's because maybe it's more of a mass appeal. Her story, her look, there's this edge to her. There's a buzz around her."

Mychasiw signed Brad Jacobs' gold medal curling team Tuesday evening, and despite the 10 days or so that have passed since Sochi, he believes the curlers will be an easy sell.

"These guys are young and cool. They're like rock stars, that's what I call them," he said. "They're not your normal demographic of a curler. That's kind of their whole thing 'We're not the normal guys, we're edgy, we're crazy, we're high energy.'"

Jacobs, Ryan Fry and brothers E.J. and Ryan Harnden —who've made headlines for their rock-hard physiques and loud fist-pumping celebrations — demolished Great Britain 9-3 to win gold.

"We're not going after traditional partnerships with those guys," Mychasiw said. "Red Bull maybe. Maybe a beer company, something a little different. These guys want to get out and be that young new wave of curlers, trying to change the sport."

Like NASCAR drivers and their cars, curlers can wear endorsements on their shirts. Mychasiw is hoping to sign Target as a sponsor.

"If I can get a Target logo on their back. . . The two Target rings represent the house rings, one; and as the defending champions, there is a target on their back," he said. "Just different stuff that's never really been done in curling."

Humphries, meanwhile, already has several long-term endorsement deals with Sport Chek and Canadian Tire, Proctor and Gamble, BMW, Oakley, Adidas, and the Globe and Mail.

"There are a couple more we're in the midst of talking about," Mychasiw said. "A lot of companies do one-year deals, we were fortunate enough to have multi-year deals on pretty much everything she did. So right now we're at a point where we're looking at more quality than quantity. As opposed to having 50 partners at a thousand bucks, let's do one at X amount.

"So we're being smart with what we pick, and associate with."

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