Athletes? Affiliates? Backcountry.com says: Both.Jonny Atencio comes on to manage the online retailer’s new team program,instantly signs Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Ingrid Backstrom for Tramdock.com Park City, Utah (Nov. 29, 2007) – Thomas Edison said: “Hell, there are no rules here — we’re trying to accomplish something.” Then he took an impractical, inefficient, expensive design and transformed it into something that would change the world — the long-lasting light bulb. In the spirit of Edison’s trail-blazing attitude, Backcountry.com is stoked to announce its new athlete sponsorship program, which doesn’t quite screw into a standard-sized socket. At the beginning of October, Jon Atencio — who made a name for himself at Scott USA by signing some of the sickest athletes in the biz — quietly made the leap to Backcountry.com for a worthy challenge: to build an entirely new kind of athlete program. And he hasn’t disappointed. Heard of Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and Ingrid Backstrom? On Atencio's first day, he landed the reigning king and queen of the freeskiing scene to represent Backcountry.com’s sister site, ski e-tailer Tramdock.com. But what’s so revolutionary? Backcountry.com’s program puts the athletes in control of their own earning potential. Instead of the traditional approach of logo-ing them up, sending them out, and praying for a return, Backcountry has charged the athletes with actively driving traffic to its sites (Backcountry.com, Tramdock.com, Dogfunk.com, WhiskeyMilitia.com and SteepandCheap.com) via social media. To generate resonant dialogue within their community, team athletes will be ambassadors for the site they represent through product reviews, personal profile pages, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, blogs, vlogs, and core websites. They’ll get the word out to their friends, colleagues, and fans, and in turn drive core customers back to the Backcountry stores. Their incentive is a percentage kickback on each sale referred through their network of influence. The harder they work, the more money they make. It’s a whole lot like affiliate marketing on a person-to-person scale.“Athletes will have new motivation to participate in community, write product reviews, and make their presence known however they can — and we plan to do everything we can to leverage their community action,” Atencio said. For the athletes, it's also an opportunity to learn how to market themselves. Backcountry.com will provide them with quantitative tools to track and measure their impact on the sites. They'll have hard data to show other sponsors how much pull they really have. “It’s win-win," said Atencio. "We get cred for working with the sweetest athletes out there (who really are the best spokespeeps for the gear we sell). They get to earn cash on the sales they drive through the sites, and create a better value proposition to pitch other sponsors. It’s a whole new way to work with athletes.” Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7O4yjfxmVA. About Backcountry.comBackcountry.com is an online retailer of performance outdoor adventure gear and apparel. The e-commerce site carries more than 400 brands in various categories, including backpacking, camping, hiking, climbing, trail running, paddling, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and adventure travel. Backcountry.com also operates BackcountryOutlet.com, SteepandCheap.com, Dogfunk.com, Tramdock.com, and WhiskeyMilitia.com.