The Kenai Wild logo will appear at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy.
Cook Inlet Salmon Brand Inc. is sponsoring Kasilof resident Jay Hakkinen, a biathlon athlete who has qualified to compete in the Olympics
"He's our local boy that's going to the Olympics," said Sylvia Beaudoin, executive director of CISB, the company shepherding the Kenai Wild brand and also a Kasilof resident. "He's one of the best in the entire world."
CISB is sponsoring him with $10,000 some will go to Hakkinen and half to the United States Biathlon Association. The sponsorship money came from a regional minigrant, she said.
Biathlon is a sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle marksmanship. According to biathlon.org, it is the top rated winter sport on European television.
Beaudoin said the sponsorship will make Hakkinen an official spokesperson for the brand.
Kenai Wild is a trademarked brand of high-grade Cook Inlet salmon that is bled and iced at the point of capture. CISB has been working to expand markets for their product. They have received contracts to sell their product in grocery stores around the country and have the title sponsorship at the Anchorage Saturday and Sunday Market.
Beaudoin said this is a positive development because every time the camera zooms in on Hakkinen in the Olympics, they will see the Kenai Wild logo.
She said this will help their product reach a health-conscious crowd.
"We're talking about very health-conscious people that are looking for pure protein," Beaudoin said.
In a telephone interview, Hakkinen said obtaining sponsorships can be difficult for athletes and he is grateful for the opportunity.
"It's absolutely vital," he said, adding that it can be hard to pay the bills and train at the same time.
"(Securing sponsorships is) always one of the big challenges," he said.
The idea for a Kenai Wild sponsorship started when Beaudoin stopped him roller skiing on Coho Loop and said CISB was interested in supporting him.
Because he is also a commercial fisher, he said the sponsorship connects two important areas of his life.
"I believe in the product," he said.
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