Every big name extreme sport athlete is connected to a brand, or several brands. From energy drink companies and cameras that sponsor just about all sports to smaller companies more specific to a sport, like surfboards or ski helmets, brands play a pivotal role in the culture and subcultures of extreme sport.
In some respects, athletes can be bought as living advertisements. They become branded in a sense that they are contracted to wear, drink, or use a certain label and product. On the other hand, it should not be ignored that some of these company-athlete relationships may be quite mutually beneficial. While companies benefit a great deal from media showing someone pulling a revolutionary trick, setting a record, or simply doing whatever it is they do with style while using their product, so does the athlete. For many of these athletes, success for them is simply doing what they love as much as they can, even if it means sacrificing job security and a constant salary. When companies showcase an athlete, it acts as both an advertisement and promotional material for the athlete.
Brands, in turn, engrain themselves into extreme sport culture. Even budding athletes will put brand stickers on their snowboards, whitewater kayaks, and even their personal computers. This happens because the connections fans have with their favorite athletes is also a connection to the brands they represent.
Take a look at Red Bull’s athletes, from NBA superstars to Rally Car drivers, household names are aplenty. http://www.redbull.com/us/en/browse-all-athletes