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U.S. snowboarding golds spark jacket sales

By Liana B. Baker

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Sports e-commerce company Fanatics said that sales of a $300 Nike Inc Team USA jacket have spiked following United States' Chloe Kim and Shaun White winning gold medals, making jackets its highest grossing Olympics category.

While the Winter Games does not have the global scale of the Summer Games as it features fewer countries, sponsors and companies connected to the event can still see a boost from selling apparel and merchandise.

Kim blew away the competition to win the women's snowboard halfpipe gold on Tuesday. The following day White delivered a stunning routine on the final run of a gripping halfpipe final to win his third Winter Olympic gold and a landmark 100th for his country.

Fanatics, which handles merchandising for the United States Olympic Committee, said it sold thousands of Team USA jackets since the Olympics started, but it picked up "insanely" after Kim and White competed.

The spacesuit inspired $800 Burton jackets similar to uniforms that the U.S. snowboard team competed in are also out of stock for both men and women on the Burton website.

"As soon as White's performance happened on the half pipe, we saw the immediate demand come in for snowboarding," Jack Boyle, co-president of Fanatics direct-to-consumer business, told Reuters.

It is seeing an 80 percent boost in sales of Olympic gear compared to the last winter Games in Sochi in 2014, which it credits to carrying a bigger selection of official items approved by the USOC, ranging from a $45.99 cowbell to a Swatch watch that sells for $119.99.

Hockey jersey sales are still the top selling sport category at the Olympics, which Fanatics expects to remain strong throughout the games.

"There could be very well be more interest with a return back to the amateurs in the Olympics," Boyle said.

At the beginning of the Games, curling reached the No. 2 selling Olympic sport behind hockey for a few days as shirts with the Team USA curling were in demand. Snowboarding has since replaced curling in the No. 2 spot behind hockey.

One surprise best-seller has been a $90 Team USA one piece pyjama. The company had to re-order a batch of pyjamas four times after it was featured on The Today Show morning show on NBC, Boyle said.

Fanatics is only allowed to sell Olympics merchandise related to the United States but it said the Games was leading to increased sales from non-Olympic branded gear from Canada, Russia and Nordic countries.

The privately held Jacksonville, Florida-based company also runs online sales for the National Basketball Association and the National Football League. It was valued at $4.5 billion in its last funding round led by SoftBank Group Corp.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)