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How will Whistler recognize Maëlle Ricker?


What's it going to be for Olympic gold medallist Maëlle Ricker? A park? A ski run? A street? A building? All of the above with a really big party to celebrate?

When Ross Rebagliati won gold in the first snowboarding parallel giant slalom in 1998 the town of Whistler held a huge party when he finally returned home from Japan - after some stops on the talk show circuit and an appearance on the Jay Leno show.

Whistler Blackcomb offered to name a run in Rebagliati's honour, something they had never done before. Rebagliati chose Gandy Dancer - a run frequently used in racing. Whistler Blackcomb also gave Rebagliati a glass statue.

Not to be outdone, the Resort Municipality of Whistler presented Rebagliati with a key to the village and renamed Fitzsimmons Creek Park, between the day skier lots and the Upper Village, Rebagliati Park.

While there's no policy of naming things after Olympic athletes, Whistler Blackcomb acknowledged that they were discussing possibilities for Ricker. The Resort Municipality is planning a legacy for the athletes at the Whistler Celebration Plaza, among other things.

Ricker currently lives in Squamish with teammates but trains in Whistler and spends whatever free time she gets during the winter freeriding around the local mountains.

There's also no question that there will be some financial benefits to a gold medal as well. In addition to the $20,000 given to gold medal winners by the Canadian Olympic Committee, Ricker will continue to earn the maximum grant from the federal Athlete Assistance Program - roughly $18,000 per year for the top level athletes.

According to Heat Stroke , by Michael Simonson, about 80 per cent of Canada's amateur athletes live below the poverty line.

However, endorsements are usually the best opportunity for athletes, with six and seven figure sponsorship opportunities available for gold medals. The ability to capitalize depends on the sport, the personality of the athlete and the timing - if only one athlete from a country wins gold then there might be more opportunities in that country than if a dozen finish on top of the podium.

Agencies like IMG World are known for signing Olympic athletes and looking after their image and endorsements. Their list of current clients includes alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, figure skater Evan Lysacek and snowboarder Shaun White.


What's a gold medal worth?

According to the Wall Street Journal , an Olympic gold medal is worth roughly $500 U.S., if you melted down the six grams of gold and 571 grams of silver and sold the metals at market value. Silver medals are worth about half as much, and bronze medals not much at all.

Of course, the value in endorsements can add up to millions of dollars, for some athletes. And if they choose to one day sell them as is on eBay? A few silver medals from past Olympic Games have sold for around $7,000 U.S. each.