In the coming weeks in Sochi, Russia, Brittany Bowe will toe the line going for a speedskating medal; Heidi Kloser will rattle down the moguls course aiming for gold; and Abby Hughes will be part of the debut of women's ski jumping. All of them have worked for years to earn this Olympics trip ... and all of them got help along the way through crowdfunding—an advantage that long-ago Winter Games heroes, like Peggy Fleming, Eric Heiden and Brian Boitano, never had.
Thanks to crowdfunding and thousands of generous donors, Bowe, Kloser and dozens of other athletes at the Winter Olympics—including the Jamaican bobsled team, which raised $150,000 in January—will not be going to Russia alone.
Like every other American athlete—and unlike millions of athletes in other countries—the careers of Olympic athletes are not financially supported by the government. True, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) does dole out millions to each individual sports federation, but there are 39 of those, and many more needs than funds can fulfill.
So athletes are learning that along with grit, determination, amazing skill and a little luck, succeeding in their chosen sport now also means marketing, sales, PR and a little good old-fashioned schmoozing.