The off-mountain, online business of Olympians
Just before leaving for Turin, Italy, U.S. freestyle aerialist Jeret "Speedy" Peterson ordered thousands of caps and belt buckles stamped with his self-made logo: a large "S" printed on a red-and-white checkered flag to suggest the animated Speed Racer cartoon.
"I made the Speedy Gear to help sponsor my season and pay for my trip to the Olympics," Peterson explains. "I’ve been going to events and selling them. It gives people someone to root for during the Olympics. I think it makes sports more fun when you have someone to root for."
He says he chose buckles and caps because that’s "basically his uniform" off the slopes. Peterson, who has lived in Park City for six years, began working on his gear three months ago. He has since sold about 1,000 hats in the U.S., he says, and hopes to sell the rest online at his personal Web site, http://www.jeretpeterson.com.
These days, it seems nearly every United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) team member has their own Web site. Peterson says it’s not mandatory, but that most do it to update fans, post photos and to thank sponsors for their support.
"Some people don’t do it, but I like the Internet. I’m a little techy. And it’s a cool thing to work on while I travel," Peterson says.
Recently, it appears Web sites have also become a vehicle for USSA athletes to direct fans to their companies and fan gear.
U.S. freestyle skier Jeremy Bloom, makes made-to-order posters and hats as well, notes Peterson, and U.S. freestyle skier Jillian Vogtli makes jewelry.
Unlike Peterson or Bloom, Vogtli’s jewelry company, Jewelry by Jillian, does not spell out her name in jewels for fans to show their support for her skiing.
Instead, Vogtli began her business in the fall of 2003 out of a love for semi precious stones. After strangers began noticing necklaces she made for herself, wondering where they could purchase them, she says, she began making more, and with the encouragement of family and friends, she began her business.
Vogtli is also pursuing her doctorate in Natural Health and like Peterson, is in Turin, to compete at the 2006 Olympic Games.
Peterson’s competition is toward the end of the Games, and he expects that through his Web site, he will be able to sell more of his uniquely U.S. buckles and hats. Peterson says that though China was an option, he made an effort to manufacture his gear in the United States. Companies in Boise, Idaho and Salt Lake mint and print his goods.
A son of two parents who work in the medical field, Peterson says he came up with the idea himself, and says he will continue to make his gear, but adds that post-Olympics he will likely direct the profits to a charitable organization.
"It’s not really a one-time during the Olympics type of thing. Eventually, I’m going to start a foundation to support other kids and their dreams," he said.
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