August 25, 2013

Sports agent from Maine builds world-class reputation

Some of the biggest names in Olympics sports say Peter Carlisle is 'more than just an agent.'

By Mike Lowe mlowe@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

click image to enlarge

Peter Carlisle stands in front of a gallery of his clients in his office at the MHG Ice Centre in Saco. He said when he started his own agency in 1997, he considered the growing popularity of action sports, such as snowboarding, and saw opportunity. “He was a visionary,” says his brother, Jeff Carlisle.

Photo by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer.

20130620_Carlisle
click image to enlarge

Peter Carlisle talks about his career as a sports agent in his office at the MHG Ice Centre in Saco earlier this summer. He said when he started his own agency in 1997, he considered the growing popularity of action sports, such as snowboarding, and saw opportunity. “He was a visionary,” says his brother, Jeff Carlisle.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Gold Medal Clients

From the time he started his own one-man shop in 1997 to today, where he oversees the Olympic and Action Sports division for Octagon, one of the largest sports agencies in the world, Peter Carlisle has represented some of the most successful Olympic athletes in U.S. history. Here’s a look at some of them: 

KELLY CLARK,
snowboarder
The Vermont native has won Olypmic gold in the halfpipe in 2002 and bronze in 2010. Has won 10 X Games medals. Named to ESPN’s 50 Most Influential People in Action Sports.

 

 

APOLO ANTON ONO,
speedskater
Has won the most medals (eight) of any U.S. Winter Olympics athlete. He has two golds, two silvers and four bronze medals. Won ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.’’ Retired from competition.

 

 

 

MICHAEL PHELPS,
swimmer
Has won the most medals of any U.S. Olympian in history (22). Also holds all-time Olympic record for gold medals (18). Won eight gold medals in 2008 Beijing Games. Started the Michael Phelps Foundation, to promote swimming and healthy lifestyles. Now retired, but speculation that he will return.

 

ROSS POWERS,
snowboarder
The sport’s first child prodigy won Olympic gold in the halfpipe in 2002, as well as bronze in 1998. The Vermont native started the Ross Powers Foundation, which has since been expanded to the Level Field Fund.
 
 
ALY RAISMAN,
gymnast
Was the captain of the U.S. gymnastics team that won the Olympic gold medal in 2012, while winning an individual gold in floor exercise and bronze in the balance beam.
 
 
 
 
SETH WESCOTT,
snowboardcross
The Carrabassett Valley resident has won the only two Olympic gold medals awarded in snowboardcross (2006, 2010). He is heavily involved in Maine charities and part of the Level Field Fund, which provides grants to gifted athletes in financial need.
 

– By Mike Lowe, Staff Writer

"For us, it's all marketing, it's all sponsorship, it's all PR," Carlisle said.

Wescott's partnership with Visa is a perfect example. Carlisle had negotiated a deal with Visa to sponsor Phelps before the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. During the opening ceremonies, he was invited to sit next to the Visa executive who handled Olympic athletes. Speaking about the success of Phelps' ad campaign, Carlisle said, "I've got your next big thing."

He was talking about snowboardcross, making its Olympic debut in 2006, and its appeal to a younger generation. "I just told him that I had the guy who would be perfect for them," said Carlisle, and soon afterward Wescott had Visa as his major sponsor.

From very early on, Carlisle displayed the ability to master the market.

"He's very intuitive," said Drew Johnson, the director of communications for Octagon's Olympic and Action Sports division. "His creativity and ability to see things unfold before they transpire is really remarkable."

Carlisle said selling his clients often depends on the sport they compete in. Some need to be sold, others don't. The sponsors are looking for compelling stories.

Entering Sochi, for example, Carlisle talked about halfpipe snowboarder Kelly Clark, ski jumper Lindsey Van and nordic skier Kikkan Randall.

Clark, who won the first U.S. snowboarding gold medal in Olympic history in 2002 and then a bronze in 2010, is well-known. But he still has to sell her to corporate sponsors. "We have to educate them as to what her significance is," he said. "She is arguably the most dominant female athlete in her sport that you will find."

Women's ski jumping is making its Olympic debut, so Carlisle figures NBC might feature it more. And Van, who won the sport's first gold medal in the 2009 World Championships, should be in the spotlight. And then there's Randall, who competes in a sport that gets little or no coverage. Carlisle believes she could win a gold medal for the United States in a sport dominated by European nations.

"It's something that could be celebrated among a certain demographic," Carlisle said. "And the mainstream media might take an interest."

'HE'S ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS'

Carlisle's breakthrough came when he signed Powers, who was returning with the U.S. Team from the Nagano Olympics in 1998. Powers had won a bronze medal in the halfpipe and was considered a prodigy. Carlisle met him in Las Vegas at a sports trade show. IMG, one of the biggest agencies in the world, was courting Powers.

The two were introduced by Mullen. "I liked him," said Powers. "He was the closest one to me, which helped, but I just really liked him and signed with him. From there, it's turned more into a friendship than a client-agent relationship. He's one of my best friends."

Carlisle helped secure Powers some sponsorships. Powers in turn introduced Carlisle to other snowboarders, such as Wescott, who signed with Carlisle in 1998.

In Carlisle, Wescott saw someone he trusted to secure him financial stability as well as someone he could bond with. "He's much more than a business associate with me," Wescott said. "He's been a mentor to me throughout life. I know it's like that with Ross, too."

Through Carlisle's guidance, Powers established the Ross Powers Foundation, which provided funding for athletes in financial need in Vermont. A couple of years later, Wescott, Phelps and others joined the foundation, which was renamed the Level Field Fund and provides financial aid to athletes in a variety of sports.

"By bringing in more athletes, we are able to help more athletes in return," Powers said.

(Continued on page 4)

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