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Canadian Winter Athletes Rake In The Dough

Yesterday, the Synergy Merchant Services Blog discussed the positive impact that the 2010 Winter Olympic Games is having on the Canadian economy. Helping with the boost of a number of industries throughout the nation, hosting the Winter Games is proving to be a lucrative investment for Canada.

Today, there is further evidence that the Olympics, specifically the Winter Games, provide a great opportunity for financial gain for Canada’s winter Olympians. As reported by QMI Agency’s Stefania Moretti, “Canada’s winter Olympians typically fare better than their summer counterparts when it comes to scoring lucrative sponsorship contracts.”

Sam Galet, vice president at global sports management firm IMG’s Canadian division, believes that the Winter Games seem to be more profitable for Canadians over the Summer Games as sports like snowboarding, skating and of course, hockey are so popular in Canada. Furthermore, there is also a history of Canadian athletes faring better at the Winter Games than the Summer Olympics as the nation’s gold medal record haul has shown.

Meanwhile, the opposite is true for our American counterparts. According to Jim Andrews, sports marketing agency IEG’s senior vice president, American summer athletes make approximately 50% more than their winter athletes.

U.S. swimmer and eight-time gold medal winner, Michael Phelps is a prime example of the American summer athlete who has profited greatly due to his success at the Olympics. Word has it that he accumulated over $100 million after his dominant performance in Beijing at the last Summer Games.

By comparison, gold medal winning snowboarder, Shaun White scored approximately $7.5 million last year by attaining sponsorships from such companies as Burton, Red Bull, Target, Oakley, Ubisoft and AT&T. Meanwhile, White finds himself among the highest paid Olympic athletes at this year’s Winter Games. The list of top-earning Winter Olympic athletes, in fact, have no Canadians, according to – NHL hockey players excluded.

As Moretti reveals: “Canadian athletes training for the Olympics receive $1,500 a month from Sport Canada to help subsidize their income and pay for coaching, equipment and nutrition. Still, many Canadian Olympians are forced to hold down day jobs while training for the Olympics.”

Skeleton racer Jon Montgomery, she writes, will very likely have to return to his part-time job as a sales consultant and automobile auctioneer, even after winning a gold medal in Vancouver. However, let’s not forget that the Canadian Olympic Committee does award bonuses of $20,000 to gold medalists, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze.

Alexandre Bilodeau, the first Canadian ever to win gold on home turf, is expected to take in at least $1 million in endorsement deals while Olympic speed skater Cindy Klassen is reported to have signed a $1 million deal with Manitoba phone company, MTS Allstream Inc. This would be one of the biggest deals ever for a Canadian amateur athlete.

So even though Canadian winter athletes may not make as much as their competitors in the United States, they do seem to make out better than the summer athletes of the nation. If only the Winter Olympics happened more frequently in this country, perhaps it would rid itself of financial hardship for good!

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