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MILAN 2018

The trip to Milano for the 2018 World Figure Skating Championships was a great one even though it started out as a nightmare. When looking at hotels, they were around £1500 per person and we had four colleagues attending. Looking to save a bit of cash, I figured getting an Airbnb made a lot of sense. I booked the Airbnb weeks in advance, the cash was taken, everything looked good to go until a week prior when the host never responded to a message I sent. The day of travel, I made several attempts to call and connect with the host, to no avail. Finally, I contacted Airbnb, who was unbelievably helpful. Within an hour, our payment had been refunded, they charged a penalty to the host and helped us secure new accommodation. I can’t commend their customer service team enough—well done!

Part of what made this trip so great for me was the addition of Sven. I found Sven on YouTube a while ago and have high hopes of bringing him onboard. I’ve spent a lot of time doing the social media for both brands over the past few years and need to get away from this to focus on big-picture items. This is Sven’s passion and he did a great job for both MK and John Wilson during the course of the event, covering all of the action. It made the trip that much more memorable for me because I wasn’t stressing about partaking in the conversation via Instagram and Twitter.

Another highlight was seeing Nathan Chen win his first World Championships. I met Nathan at the first National Championships I ever went to and have watched him develop every year. What he’s able to do on the ice is incomprehensible and he’s managed to stay super humble throughout it all.

We improved on our medal tally from the Olympics with 78% of all World’s medallists wearing the blades made in our Sheffield factory. Being around the athletes and their energy inspires me every day to make better products and improve our service. Unlike previous events we’ve attended, this year at Milano we had over 56 athletes come visit our booth. We did upgrade our booth presentation which made our brands more easily identifiable and we handed out free apparel to athletes. It was great collaborating with Chique Sport who is now officially in their 2nd year of business. The amount of athlete traction we received is a pretty good indicator that the value-added experience we’re seeking is having an impact.

Having Maggie around is always a plus. We didn’t get too much time to venture around Milano but she came to a few dinners and helped out at the booth. She had a sketchy experience riding the subway where the employees demanded she pay a 34 Euro penalty for not buying the right ticket. After pleading ‘stupid tourist ignorance’, but sensing this was a bit of a scam, she refused to pay the fine on the spot. They threatened to notify the U.S. embassy and insisted that if she chose not to pay right then and there, the amount of the fine would triple. She held her ground and refused to pay it—we’ll see if we get notified, but as she said, “good luck!”

I spent quality time with Coughlin and Liam which included several great business strategy sessions.

I also got to catch up with Jackie Wong who continues to skyrocket in popularity--he was featured in the Wall Street Journal for his coverage in figure skating!

Robin Ritoss is the sweetest woman alive; she went to Pyeongchang and got me a beautiful red hat! This gesture was so thoughtful and meant so much to me. I met Robin through work—we’ve purchased many of her shots to promote our athletes.

I also got to meet Gail Dodds and her squad after being friends on Facebook for a year or so! Gail is a big-time House Hunters fan and appreciated our sense of humour on the show. Hope to see her around the rink soon (or better yet, in Australia!).

In closing, I found Milano pretty underwhelming. I would probably give it a 5/10 overall. It always feels like you’re getting hustled (i.e. Maggie’s experience above). An Uber will cost 40 Euros but if you know a taxi driver and pay cash you can go the same distance for 14 Euros. The canals are nice, the Duomo is gorgeous and the food is good, but you certainly pay for it. It lacked a lot of the old-world charm we’ve come to love in other European cities.

What made this trip for me were the people involved. I’ve been so incredibly blessed to have met so many wonderful people. I’m grateful to have a job which allows me to travel and spend time working in a sport I love, with those I love.

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