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Christina Park


Richard Park
photo: Jeff Vinnick
courtesy: Orca Bay

Because of Richard's abundant talent and the publicity that surrounded the Parks, top agents were more than happy to come to the table at NHL draft time. "There was so much buzz after I brought him that everyone was coming up to us," says Christina. "The best thing I did was to say I'm going to do his first pro contract and I'm going to get help from the best agent out there - I want to understand and pick his brain. I learned a lot from Pat Morris, Don Meehan... but I chose Mike Barnett because I connected with him right away."

Barnett was then, as he remains now, one of the most influential people in the game. He started IMG Hockey - the ice hockey arm of the powerful International Management Group - and guided Gretzky's career through its glory years. He now works alongside Gretzky in the front office of the Phoenix Coyotes Hockey Club, and remains in close contact with Christina. "She's a pistol!" he laughs when he learns the subject of this article.

"I heard a talented young player named Richard Park was playing in Toronto and to further his career his older sister moved with him," recalls Barnett, "and to her credit she stuck with it, taking on a parental role. Spending time around her I found out how dedicated she was. That she didn't ever look back says a lot about her."

In 1994, with Barnett as his agent, Richard was selected in the second round, 50th overall, by the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins. Professional hockey was in Richard's immediate future, but despite having just completed her Masters in Finance, Christina's tenacious personality was steering her towards a career as an agent.

Through Barnett, Christina met IMG founder Mark McCormack, and decided she wanted what he had. "I want to have the sports, and the fashion, and roll it all into one management company. That's my ultimate."

At the same time she wanted to get away from hockey, because she felt her involvement was putting too much pressure on her brother. So along with her Canadian boyfriend, who had also studied finance, Christina moved to New York and went to work at investment firm Goldman Sachs.

Tedious days as an investment banker didn't really complement her larger-than-life personality however, so she left Wall Street after 18 months to help her boyfriend start up his own company. But once that was going, Christina was restless to get back into management.

She didn't want to go back to hockey, because that would be too close to her brother again. So she called Barnett who suggested getting involved on the fashion management side.

Her initial meeting with IMG Models, and the person running it at the time, left a bad taste in her mouth. "I went in and she had her foot up on the desk, filing her nails, and she treated everyone in a way that was not cool. And I looked at her and said 'this is not how you should treat people.' But I needed to learn the business. So I left that day saying I want my own agency. But I didn't know how to get there."