When the Olympic torch is carried through Russia toward the opening of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Steve McCarthy (IntlAf’80) and his team will have played an important role.
“You can change the way the rest of the world sees your country and culture in a single captured image of the Olympic flame passing through your streets,” comments Steve, chairman and CEO of Além International, an experiential marketer, creator and producer of special events based in Louisville, Colo.
Steve started consulting in Russia two years ago in anticipation of the 2014 Winter Games. His team has worked on torchbearer operations, marketing and sponsorships.
Since the Atlanta games in 1996, Além has consulted on, developed or coordinated and executed the torch relays for every Olympic Games. Included is the total production of the first around-the-world relay for the 2004 Athens Games and the first Youth Olympic Games relays in Singapore and Innsbruck, Austria.
The 2014 Olympic torch functions as a catalyst in Steve’s view as a means to show the world both the history and future of Russia.
“We’ll show you Russia; its resilience, romance, progress, initiative and entrepreneurship,” he says. “Sochi is a beautiful setting, and the venues are well developed to welcome the world next February after a 123-day torch tour through every corner of Russia.”
Closer to home, the Além team has worked on such diverse projects as the Democratic National Convention, presidential debates and the USA Pro Challenge, a Colorado cycling event.
“All the excitement and education we have gained traveling to far-off places can’t match the inspiration we always have when we return to Colorado,” Steve says.
Steve’s interest in international affairs began when he attended the Conference on World Affairs as a child with his parents. As an adult, he has moderated CWA panels and played a sponsorship role through Além. Event management and sports captured his interest at CU when he became involved with the state’s cycling races, the Red Zinger Classic and Coors Classic Bicycle Race.
As a hobby, Steve collects torches used in almost all Olympic Games since 1936 when the first relay was staged. He has more than 30 torches. His two favorites are Atlanta’s 1996 signed by Muhammad Ali and London’s 1948 “austere” torch.
“You see every face, age, place and all the possible means of transporting the flame,” says Steve, referring to the Olympic torch relays. “I hope to be a small part of every torch relay to come.”
Photo courtesy Além International