Women bobsledders will compete for the first time at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, which is the sales and distribution arm of Northwestern Mutual, is playing a part in helping Jean Racine and Jen Davidson bring home the gold for the United States. The Network is one of Racine and Davidson's key corporate sponsors in their quest for an Olympic gold this winter.

Racine, the driver from Waterford, Mich., and Davidson, the brakewoman from Layton, Utah, are the top ranked women's bobsled team in the world. During the 2000-2001 season, they combined for an unprecedented six gold medals out of seven World Cup events. Racine and Davidson have won the World Cup Championship in each of the last two seasons. In addition, they won silver medals at the 2000 and 2001 Women's Bobsled World Championships.

The Network's sponsorship is invaluable to the team. According to Davidson, "We're some of the first women in this sport to have big sponsorships like this. It's huge as far as what it's enabled us to do -- taking some of the financial burden away from us so that we can focus on our training." Sue Tompkins, Director of Market Development at Northwestern Mutual, said, "Jean and Jen's participation in the Olympics will serve as an example for anyone who has a goal, especially women, that success is possible when you have commitment, discipline and focus."

The connection with the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network began more than two years ago, when General Agent Paul Stein, CLU, of Troy, Mich., met Racine, the driver for the women's bobsled. After getting to know her, Stein thought the young woman would be the perfect ambassador to serve as an inspirational example to his clients and prospects. It was not long after when the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network got wind of the duo and saw an opportunity to energize clients and financial representatives nationwide.

Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, the sales and distribution arm of Northwestern Mutual, provides expert guidance on insurance, investment products and services, retirement and estate planning, education funding and employee benefits. The Network has 7,500 financial representatives and more than 350 offices across the country. It is consistently ranked one of the "Best Sales Forces" in its industry in Sales and Marketing Management magazine surveys and in 2000 was named the best in the nation, in any industry.

Northwestern Mutual, the nation's leading provider of individual life insurance, has always received the highest possible ratings for financial strength from Standard & Poor's, Moody's, Fitch (formerly Duff & Phelps) and A. M. Best. Besides life insurance, the Company, its subsidiaries and affiliates provide annuities, mutual funds, long-term care insurance and disability income insurance. In its category, it was named the most admired company in the world in Fortune's latest corporate reputation survey. Among its majority-owned subsidiaries are the Frank Russell Company, the investment management and advisory firm, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, the securities brokerage firm, and the Northwestern Mutual Trust Company. The Trust Company offers a full range of personal trust products and services, as well as investment management services. Further information on Northwestern Mutual, based in Milwaukee, Wis., can be found at: http://www.northwesternmutual.com/

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SOURCE: Northwestern Mutual Financial Network

Contact: Deanna Tillisch, +1-414-665-2705, or Jean Towell-Gebhard,
+1-414-665-5167, both for Northwestern Mutual Financial Network

Website: http://www.northwesternmutual.com/