By Dan Capawana, Media Relations Specialist, R&J Public Relations
Winning gold at the Olympics can mean international fame, endorsements, appearances on late night television, magazine covers, and meeting all kinds of celebrities. Just ask Sage Kotsenburg, the “spoicy” 20 year old snowboarder who recently won gold in the inaugural Snowboard Slopestyle event in RosaKhutorExtremePark at the Sochi Olympics. In the past two weeks Sage has been on Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, and David Letterman, done hundreds of interviews including ones with Rolling Stone and Time Magazine, met Denzel Washington, and had a complete stranger give him his plane ticket home to let Sage go see his family. This all happened to a guy who really didn’t think he had a chance to win gold at the Games, has been compared to Jeff Spicoli more times than I can count, and, “Ate chocolate, onion rings and chips, chilled really hard, and watched Fight Club” the night before his event. It is undeniable that Sage is making the most of his Olympic experience, and here is how he’s been doing so:
Giving good interviews. Sage has slowly won over American’s hearts by being good natured, saying all the right things about his competitors and portraying his sport in a good light, or at least the way he wants it to be seen. He has laughed at himself while the media has gone into a frenzy over his carefree attitude and snowboarder’s lingo that even I sometimes don’t understand. He has been extra careful to not complain about anything going on in Sochi, one of the more controversial Olympics ever, whether it was conditions of the course, the hotels they were staying in, laws in Russia, etc.
Social media engagement. Sage’s social media has exploded since winning gold, going from 13,000 Twitter followers to 70,000. He has done so by staying in touch with his fans, answering many of their questions and shout-outs and keeping them updated on what he’s been up to and where he’ll be appearing. His posts also come off as his genuine opinion, not just plugs for his sponsors.
Staying true to yourself. Coming into the Sochi Games, Sage refused to do the much heralded triple cork that so many said it would take to win Slopestyle. He instead focused on style, creative grabs and unique tricks that none of his competitors did, and it paid off. Sage called his brother Blaze ten minutes before his run to ask him if he should try a trick he’s never even tried before. He doesn’t train, he doesn’t go to the gym and is one of the few snowboarders to acknowledge that he rides a piece of wood down a hill for a living. He has taken that same approach to his media tour, and people are taking to it. He frequently uses words like spoicy (which I’m nearly positive he invented), crispy, gnarly, stoked, rad, and hucking, some of which sound even funnier when translated into other languages. He’s embracing his time in the limelight and has talked about trying to bring snowboarding to inner city kids who haven’t had the opportunity to try it.
Peaking at the right time. Sage has absolutely peaked at the right moment. He only won one of the 5 US Olympic qualifiers this winter before the Sochi Games, which was his first victory since he was 11 years old. Formerly known as “Second Run Sage,” he almost always fell on his first run of contests leaving it all on the line for his second. He definitely quashed that nickname with his win in Sochi, securing the win on his first run as only the third rider to drop.
He may be the guy who “just winged it” in the Slopestyle event not even two weeks ago, but Sage certainly doesn’t seem to be doing the same on this post Olympics media blitz.