SAM Magazine—Washington, D.C., Feb 9, 2018—The opening ceremonies for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang are tonight, kicking off nearly three weeks of winter sports coverage from NBC, with hundreds of millions of people expected to tune in around the world. In the U.S., viewers will be directed to NBC-owned SportsEngine.com to learn how to participate in competitive winter sports, and a link to learntoskiandsnowboard.org is included for those seeking recreational pursuits.
However, getting to the link for learntoskiandsnowboard.org requires a search criterion that includes either skiing or snowboarding. The good news: the LSSM link is prominently displayed as the first tile any search of this kind produces, followed by opportunities to get involved with competitive skiing or snowboarding near the search location.
The learntoskiandsnowboard.org web site was originally set up to support Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. It is dedicated to providing information to newcomers of the sports and to make it easier for them to get information about resorts, shops, learning programs and more at locations throughout the U.S. This should make it relatively easy for interested Olympics viewers to launch themselves into skiing and snowboarding—if they can find their way to the LSSM site.
“SportsEngine is an effective tool for those watching the Olympics who are interested in the competitive side of the featured sports, and the learntoskiandsnowboard.org site is a great tool for those who want to try skiing or snowboarding on a recreational level,” said Raelene Davis, chair of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard/Bring a Friend initiative and VP of marketing for Ski Utah.
Example search on SportsEngine.com can be found here.
Part of what the Games bring every four years is a heightened awareness of winter sports, especially skiing and snowboarding. Many of the most recognizable athletes at the Olympics are either skiers or snowboarders—and many of the events they compete in are broadcast in primetime. SportsEngine.com is NBC’s attempt at harnessing the excitement that comes with awareness for all winter sports at the Games.
The effort could be stronger. Back in November, ski areas, clubs, and programs were supposed to have the opportunity to create or update profiles so visitors to SportsEngine that searched for skiing and/or snowboarding in their area could find opportunities to get into either sport. The entire process was delayed and poorly communicated, however. As of today, few clubs or programs have information on the site, and nearly zero ski areas are to be found. If you haven’t posted info, do so as soon as you possibly can. There’s no guarantee seekers will find their way to the LSSM homepage.
For the longer term, it would be helpful to all if winter sports organizations can help NBC improve the utility of SportsEngine.com. NBC will broadcast the Olympics through 2032, so it behooves the network to generate more interest in winter sports to increase participation, and ultimately, viewership. As it stands now on opening day, there’s a missing link—literally and figuratively—to truly capitalizing on the opportunity the current Games present.