As star-making vehicles go, the Nagano Olympics didn’t come close to medaling: No Kerri Strugs emerged to capture the world’s fancy. And in terms of exposure, Nagano’s best-known winners, like Tara Lipinski and Picabo Street, were already big names. Still, for a few, the Games were a springboard to lucrative movie, book, and endorsement deals. For example, free-spirited moguls gold medalist Jonny Moseley has already made two appearances with David Letterman, and Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Sport have expressed interest in using the California dude in ad campaigns. Similarly, Canada’s snowboarding Ross Rebagliati — who had a gold medal taken away after failing a drug test for marijuana, then later had it restored — has also made the most of the spotlight. ”There’s definitely a lot of interest” from advertisers, says his agent, Nathalie Cook. ”But we’re not going to name names right now because we don’t want to shut any doors.” (A Twinkies endorsement, perhaps?)
The most notable female athletes to strike gold were the U.S. women’s hockey team, who parlayed their success into a Wheaties box cover. Team captain Cammi Granato has also gotten calls from TV producers interested in her life story. Meanwhile, Russia’s vampish ice-dancing gold medalist Pasha Grishuk has already glided into Hollywood: She’s up for a part as a spy in an untitled Universal film, as well as for a role in the indie Breakaway. Grishuk was being considered to play a Russian mobster’s mistress in the upcoming Robert De Niro thriller Ronin, but scheduling conflicts caused her to lose out to Katarina Witt.
Still, the most memorable moment of the Games may be a spectacular failure: Austrian skier and double gold medalist Hermann Maier’s horrifying — and hypnotic — crash in the downhill. ”You could do wonderful marketing things by showing that tape over and over again,” says sports agent Darcy Bouzeos. ”You could use it [to sell] headache medicine.”