Shannon Bahrke turned to coffee.
The pink-haired mogul skier from Tahoe City, Calif., already was a connoisseur of the java bean when, after being sidelined with an injury, she put together a business plan for “Silver Bean Coffee” to sell her own blends as a way to generate income for her and her teammates.
Bahrke offers ski-themed coffees with names like “Powder” and “Velvety Groomer.” And for every bag of “athlete blend” she sells, $1 goes to an Olympic athlete and the charity of the customer’s choice — money that will come in handy for skiers who, like Bahrke, find themselves paying for part of their training out of pocket.
Bahrke says she’s spent about $20,000 of her own money to train this year.
“People think that you must live in this huge house and drive this and Im like, Oh, you funny little thing,’” said Bahrke, a silver medalist at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. “I think as the economy has gotten hard, we’re kind of the first thing that companies let go. It’s like, ‘We’re cutting employees, why am I paying her to represent our product?’ So that makes it really tough.”
Teammate Michelle Roark, who won the U.S. Championships in moguls earlier this year, tapped similar entrepreneurial ambitions as a means to help make ends meet.
Using her degree in chemical engineering, she opened Phi-nomenal, a company featuring all-natural perfumes and colognes. She offers a perfume named “for Real” and others called “for Focus,” “for Confidence” and “for Balance.” Roark also has branched out to sell specially branded skis for women.
“I was always looking for a way to support my lifestyle,” Roark said. “I was looking for something that could help me afford the lifestyle I love, keep pursuing this dream and this passion I have with moguls skiing.”
Neither business has generated much income as yet.
“I’m working two jobs, and I have to pay for them,” Bahrke said of skiing and her coffee enterprise. “Hopefully, they’ll both turn into paying jobs, and then I’ll be all set.”
Both women said they hope to use their businesses to support Olympic athletes, even after they are done competing.
“Something we both have in common is wanting to leave a legacy,” Bahrke said. “I want to carry my company into the future and support the same programs that got me this far. If I can support athletes and their Olympic dreams — that’s a legacy I’d love to leave.”
Sho Kashima was among the athletes who lost a job and was left scrambling when recession hit.
Kashima, also a moguls skier, once supported his training by working at Home Depot through a program that gave Olympians full-time jobs with flexible hours that allowed them to train. That program — and Kashima’s job — were eliminated when Home Depot pulled its USOC sponsorship.
“I went to a few camps just to make a little extra cash just to get through this season,” Kashima said. “The USOC helps out a little to begin with and my personal sponsors Im hoping will kick down a few bucks and maybe some incentives for performance and TV time.”View Entire Story
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