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How Dow And The U.S. Olympic Committee Partnered To Help Team USA Athletes Chase Gold

By Stuart Lieberman | Feb. 01, 2016, 4 a.m. (ET)

Erin Hamlin celebrates winning the bronze medal in the women's luge at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games on Feb. 11, 2014 in Rosa Khutor, Russia.

Though Dow has been a worldwide partner of the United States Olympic Committee since 2010, the way it activates its partnership isn’t necessarily the traditional approach you might expect.

That’s because Dow’s long-standing focus with Team USA is its underlying message of sustainability, and with seven aggressive goals the company is committed to paving the way for that global transition to sustainability by 2025:

  • Leading the blueprint
  • Delivering breakthrough innovations
  • Advancing a circular economy
  • Valuing nature
  • Increasing confidence in chemical technology
  • Engaging employees for impact
  • World-leading operations performance

“Dow has the opportunity to use the power of sport to promote sustainability and illustrate how science-based solutions can be a catalyst for positive change,” said Rick Penn, Dow’s director of global sales and sports partnerships.

“Dow’s partnership with the USOC enables us to showcase how the combination of science and technology can enable new innovative ways to advance the world of sport.”

The trick is connecting those sustainability goals with the USOC’s initiatives in order to push Team USA athletes to the next level in both training and competition.

There have been three major areas so far where Dow has successfully activated its partnership.

Dow works with the USOC year-round as the presenting sponsor of the Team USA Awards, which recognize athletes and their accomplishments each month and culminate with the “Best of the Year” awards, which were held in Philadelphia this past December, and “Best of the Games” awards that will be held later this year after the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. Dow is also the presenting sponsor for both the Olympic and Paralympic Team of the Year Awards and has the ability to carry out unique on-site initiatives at the awards ceremony each year.

For instance, in Philadelphia, Dow set up a very green and visually appealing lettuce wall during the cocktail hour. There was a chef cutting lettuce off the wall to make salads for the attendees, and the leftover lettuce from that evening was donated to a local shelter.

The source of the food and the conversation starter created a very digestible way for Dow to portray its message of sustainability.

Dow also serves as an official technical partner of USA Luge, providing research and development, as well as technology, to help better the equipment for the team.

Starting in 2012, Dow engineered, designed and developed the first brand-new sleds for USA Luge in almost 20 years.

“Leading into the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Dow research and development and materials science teams utilized computer modeling, different compounds and extensive testing of materials to reengineer the sled design and composition, with a specific focus on the kuffens (runners under the sleds),” Penn said.

“Following the Games, the work has expanded to additional elements of the sled that impact speed, precision and comfort on the ice. The solutions tailored for USA Luge have shown improved athlete performance versus the materials previously used for the sleds as a result of lighter, more efficient design elements.”

Dow also worked closely with slider Erin Hamlin, who won bronze at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the first singles luge medal ever for the United States.

Last summer, Dow renewed its partnership with USA Luge and Hamlin in the lead-up to the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Dow’s newest initiative, meanwhile, is its partnership with the U.S. Paralympics Cycling team for the 2015-16 season. The team is No. 1 in the world in the track, road and overall International Cycling Union standings, and this year’s 27-strong roster includes nine Paralympians and five reigning world champions.

“We’re No. 1 in all of those areas, but there’s a lot of room for improvement with the handcycles and other elements in the paracycling equipment world,” said Kara Stetler, the USOC’s manager of partnership marketing.

The aim is for Dow to help U.S. Paralympics Cycling the way it has helped USA Luge.

Dow’s research and development team has already started working with U.S. Paralympics’ sport development team to find ways to further improve athletes’ handcycles and other equipment. In the near future, Dow will have conversations with the athletes to see how they can help their performance, and by the time the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games roll around, the aim is for the cyclists to have at least some sort of prototype to test out.

“We envision it being just as successful as USA Luge, and we’re really, really excited that they now have a presence on both the Olympic and Paralympic side.” Stetler said.

In addition to supporting the USOC, Dow is also a worldwide Olympic partner and the official chemistry company of the Olympic Games.

“As Rio prepares to host the 2016 Olympic Games, Dow solutions are being used in multiple Olympic venues including the Olympic Stadium training and warm-up tracks and artificial turf for the field hockey pitches in Deodoro Park,” Penn said.

“Dow is also the official carbon partner of Rio 2016 and is responsible for mitigating the direct greenhouse gases emissions from the organization and hosting of the event. Dow designed a tailor-made program to address the technology needs for Brazil while generating climate benefits.”

Through all of these initiatives, it is hoped that Dow will help raise Team USA’s profile and increase its presence at both the national and international levels.

“We want to be the bridge to help them tell the story of how they’ve supported and will continue to support Team USA and our athletes,” Stetler said. “We’ve been focused on finding unique ways to bring their partnership to life in the U.S. Dow has a powerful story to tell and we just want to continue to share that with our fans. We are grateful for their support and are looking forward to watching their partnership evolve in the years to come.”

Stuart Lieberman covered Paralympic sports for three years at the International Paralympic Committee, including at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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Erin Hamlin