In an Instagram post, Julie Marino of Team USA hinted that the International Olympic Committee taking issue with her Prada-sponsored snowboard and requiring her to make last-minute changes led to her withdrawal from the women’s snowboard big air event at the Winter Games.
Marino, who won Team USA’s first medal at the Beijing Olympics by taking silver in snowboard slopestyle, withdrew from the big air event after taking a couple of distressing falls during practice over the weekend and hurting her tailbone.
Per the 24-year-old, her $3,600 snowboard, which was the same one she used to win the slopestyle competition, felt “off” after she used a marker to draw over the Prada logo on the bottom of her board in order to appease the IOC.
“Nothing is supposed to touch the base of your board for a reason,” Marino told NBC Connecticut: “I got on my board and my board felt off, and I just felt unstable and unsteady. It’s messing with your head. It’s messing with your feeling on your board.”
In her Instagram post, Marino also implied the IOC was putting concerns about branding ahead of her personal safety. “Was just feeling pretty physically and mentally drained from this distraction and the slam I took,” she wrote in part. “I was super hyped with how I did in slope, my main event, and decided not to risk further injury even tho that didn’t appear to be the top priority of the IOC.”
Apparently, the IOC, which allows all sorts of branding across the plethora of Olympic sports, took issue with Marino using the logo because Prada’s Linea Rossa is considered not a legitimate sports brand (basically, it’s not principally involved in the business of manufacturing and selling sporting goods). Also worth noting: Prada is not an official IOC sponsor.
In a letter that was obtained by Front Office Sports written on behalf of Marino, who taped over the Prada logo on her helmet during the slopestyle event, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee argued covering the logo was unfair.
“Covering the logo is not a feasible option. The logo is molded to the board and altering it would cause drag and interrupt the surface intended to glide,” USOPC vice president Dean Nakamura wrote in the letter. “For these reasons, we ask the IOC to reconsider its position and allow Julia Marino to use the board used during the Snowboard Slopestyle competition.”
Despite the pressure, the IOC did not concede, leading Marino to draw over the letters and then pull out of the contest.