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Todd Burnette spent eight years in AT&T Corp.'s sports marketing department before coming to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association to build sponsorships for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. This year, he's helped oversee new sponsorships with ConAgra's Healthy Choice, General Mills and Charles Schwab & Co., among others.

Age: 30.

Title: VP-corporate sales and marketing, U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association, Park City, Utah.

Goal: To develop ongoing marketing relationships to fuel development of our ski and snowboard teams through 2002 and beyond.

Insight: The Winter Games are smaller, friendlier and more interesting to fans. There's no danger of sponsor overkill yet. The arrival of pros will make this year's events the most watched yet.

Tip: To ambush-proof a sponsorship, use every imaginable marketing avenue from the grass roots to network TV. Leave rivals no room.

Opinion: TV, fashion and music helped snowboarding rise meteorically, changing the Winter Games. It's here to stay, but skiing needs to borrow from snowboarding's model now in order for both to survive.

Peeve: Sponsors hooked only on ratings, who don't care who they're reaching. Anyone using sports sponsorship primarily to block competitors.

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