Alumna Playing Key Role at Olympic Games in Sochi
Alumna Playing Key Role at Olympic Games in Sochi

by Jackie Hennessey
Communications and Public Affairs Writer/Editor

Anna Vashurina ’09 M.S. has worked in the global sports marketing world for several years now. But at the Olympic Games in Sochi, even she has found herself a bit star struck.

Vashurina is an account manager for IMG, a global sports, fashion and media business with 3,500 employees operating in more than 30 countries. She is in Sochi overseeing the company’s accounts with General Electric and other corporate sponsors at the Winter Games. She typically works out of the Moscow office in the Olympic Consulting Department, where her clients are major international and Russian companies and partners of the Games.

Anna Vashurina ’09 M.S. in front of the Olympic torch in Sochi, Russia.

While it has been a whirlwind few weeks in Sochi, she is savoring each moment.   

One such moment for Vashurina, a Russian native, came as the Russian figure skating team won the gold medal, an electric moment, she said as the crowd roared. Later, Vashurina stood with hundreds in Medal Square as the team, including 15-year-old sensation Julia Lipnitskaia and four-time Olympic medalist Evgeni Plushenko, received their medals.

She also had the chance to meet Russian Olympian and Washington Capitals hockey star Alex Ovechkin. “Although I've worked in sports for a while now, meeting an athlete, especially an Olympian, for the first time in person was the best moment ever!” Vashurina said. “It was a great experience to personally wish him luck and shake his hand.”

She arrived in Sochi shortly before the Games, and she’s found herself all over the sprawling Olympic site, moving from venue to venue. While working with the Russian national snowboard team, she had the chance to visit one of the three Olympic villages for athletes, this one set in the mountain cluster.

“The Olympic village is home for the athletes for the period of the Games, and it's truly a unique opportunity to be there and see them train and enjoy the whole atmosphere,” she said. “It is an amazing place with the best athletes in the world. Being here is truly a unique experience.”

She’s been extremely busy each day of the Games. “When you work with clients, your job is to make them happy – whether it's coordinating events, planning the athletes’ appearances, arranging logistics or working on the hospitality program,” she said. “In Sochi, I have been supervising the work of my clients and performing daily operations to help them get the most out of their investment and enjoy the Games at the same time.”

So much of what she learned as a graduate student at UNH has come into play in Sochi. “UNH gave me a totally different perspective on sports management,” she said. “I got to learn 'the American way' and had a unique chance to compare it to the Russian market.”

She said Gil Fried, professor and chair of sports management, and Allen Sack, professor of sports management, were “great mentors and advisors. I truly appreciated their advice and expertise, and I am very grateful for everything they taught me. I always think of my time at UNH with warmth and love and always try to visit when I’m in the States.”

UNH is an ideal place for people aspiring to work in sports management and marketing, said Vashurina. “It has everything at once – great professors, a beautiful campus, a perfect location in Connecticut, right between New York City and Boston,” she said. “And it’s just an hour away from some of the world's leading sports franchises.”

Vashurina encouraged UNH students currently preparing for careers in sports management to take advantage of all the field has to offer. “The sports industry is so much fun – never stop enjoying it!” she said. “Seize every opportunity and network. Always volunteer and keep your eyes open. You never know where you might go and who you might meet. Don’t hesitate to work for a team that is not your favorite; it can still be a great experience.”

After the Olympics are over and she has had a chance to recover, Vashurina plans to do a live talk with University students via Goggle Hangout, sharing her experiences, answering questions and providing students with insights on how to land a job like hers.    

She will leave the Games with indelible images, particularly the stunning Opening Ceremonies. “The Sochi Olympics were a dream for Russia, the dream that we waited seven years for,” she said. “The ceremony reflected a girl named Lubov, the Russian word for love, who was actually living this dream. She was flying over Russia, learning different things about it and watching it evolve and grow, showing Russian history, our people and traditions.

“And then three-time Olympic hockey champion Vladislav Tretyak and legendary figure skater Irina Rodnina lit the Olympic flame,” she said. “It was a beautiful, touching moment and an unforgettable experience.”

Visit the Sports Management program's Facebook page to view pictures taken by Anna and to learn more about her experience at the Olympics.

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