Life in PyeongChang

By on Feb 12, 2018 in @SkatingPj, Olympics

I am writing this in a rare free moment from PyeongChang Korea. Since this is my 8th Olympic Games, and I am often asked what it is like, I thought I would take the opportunity to fill you in.

First of all, I am not going to play coy. Being at the Olympic Games in any capacity is very special and one that I feel privileged to know first hand. I started in 2002 at the Salt Lake City Games and I remember looking around and drinking everything in. I thought that if I never got the chance to be at the Games again, I will at least have been to one. As it turned out, it was a pretty interesting one to say the least!

The first thing you need to know is that you are here to work and believe me there is a lot to be done. Once you are on the ground and in your hotel, in my case at 1:00 am last Thursday morning local time, you need to determine when and how you are being transported around and at what time your work life begins the next day.

We were picked up at 10:00 am and taken to where you pick up your accreditation and uniform. The process is like a well-oiled machine and from start to finish including transportation from hotel to the accreditation/uniform centre and then to venue took a little under 2 hours. We were off to a great start!

The next stop was and is every day, the figure skating venue known as the Gangneung Ice Arena (GIA) – it is a gorgeous venue in the coastal cluster that is shared between figure skating and short track speed skating. We have a beautiful office that overlooks the rink and is a hive of activity. There are a number of people with whom I have worked before and many new Korean colleagues and friends. The atmosphere is lively and fun.

We have been working hard on scripts and my Korean co-announcer and I have been rehearsing our own announcing ‘choreography’. There are hard and fast rules in place about things like the names of countries and how and when Korean and English are used and when French is dropped in as well as how the event unfolds. All of these guidelines are in place in order to provide the athletes with a seamless and predictable experience regardless of where they skate in the order. They are also in place in order to facilitate the best possible circumstances for TV. It is fun to see how all of the pieces fit together!

What do I like best? The people. Plain and simple. Regardless of the host nation, it is wonderful to see the excitement in the eyes of the people whose home this is. I remember swelling with Canadian pride when the Games were in Vancouver, and it is no different for my Korean friends here and is totally infectious.

One of the fun ‘people’ things going on here is my Korean bosses have decided that instead of us fending for ourselves, as far as food is concerned, they would look after making sure we got all of our meals. So far, at the end of the workday, our group piles into our 2 assigned vans and heads to a local place figured out ahead of time by our crew. Last night it was a famous local potato soup place, another time it was a chicken place and even a local Korean home-style restaurant where we sat on the floor at low tables. The hospitality is second to none.

I am asked often if I have favourites. Believe it or not, I am pulling for ALL of the athletes to have the Olympic moment they are hoping for. To be an Olympian is something about which I am truly in awe. Congratulations to anyone who can call themselves Olympian, as they are the best of the best.

When I was a kid, I always wanted to be at an Olympic Games but I didn’t want to be there as a spectator. I knew I wasn’t going to get there as an athlete but I could never have imagined how this part of my life would have played out, proving once again, you just never know.

Thank you for having me #PyeongChang2018 – I am so happy to be here.