A wise man once said, “the best work is created when one is having fun.” Maybe it was just me that said it, or more correctly, thought it, but there is no better corroborating evidence than what occurred in Sochi. It was pretty incredible how much I learned and experienced in my time with The Weather Channel. Putting in 21 consecutive days was not nearly the challenge I anticipated. It definitely was a grind at times, but I went to sleep every night truly looking forward to what the morning would bring. One could argue that it was my best work on-camera to date because it was the most consistent exposure I have ever had, and they may have a point, but I think the best instants manifest when you’re enjoying the process.
There was still a lot of serious preparation that went into every live shot, interview, and segment. It is fun to do your job well after all, and that takes work. But try as you might, positive energy cannot be fabricated- if it is authentic that is what makes an interaction compelling on a screen thousands of miles away. More than anything that is what I took away from the Sochi Games.
The Olympics is one of the most amazing events in history because it transcends the global differences of ideology, topography, and culture. For a short stint every two years the world collectively shares in the same hopes and goals. Being a part of that, in any capacity, whether a competitor or cameraman, is a privilege. The fun began the moment you looked at any face in the crowd. Everyone had the same expression- genuine, untarnished excitement. There are few things more contagious- or authentic- than that.
Here are some of my highlights from Sochi.
Working with Stephanie Abrams: There are those moments in life when only the word kismet can suffice. Meeting Steph was one of them. She is a mentor, kindred spirit, and friend for life.
Interviewing former teammates: it was such fun to have the opportunity to give them a hug and a word of encouragement before their competition. This is Julia Mancuso and myself mid-interview. Her joy at getting third in the Super Combined was definitely one of the sweetest slices of the games.
Seeing Jamie Anderson win gold in snowboarding slopestyle: She is a sweetheart AND a fierce competitor. Plus she is the first gold medalist in her sport ever! Making history!
Al Roker is exactly who you think he is: He could not be a nicer guy. Charming, open, and warm, the Al you see on TV is Al in real life. It truly was a pleasure to share the camera with him. (Grammar aside, let’s be clear- he shared the camera with me.)
Spectating Skeleton Training: Upwards of 90 miles/hour with your chin two inches from the ice. Enough said.
Funny Translations: No need to comment on this one.
Watching Shani (unfortunately) miss out on gold: It was a bummer that he couldn’t three-peat his gold in the 1000m, but the majesty of speed skating is never anticlimactic. It is a beautiful intersection of power, grace, and precision.
Being Dutch for a night: They wear orange. They are very fast at speed skating. They love to have a good time. A night at the Holland Heineken House combines all three.
Getting a taste of the Caucasus Mountains: Steven Nyman and I made a few turns, but I am captivated with their vastness and terrain. I will make it back to explore them more. That’s a promise.
Doggie paradise: The unofficial mascots of the games. Less nuisances than lovable ambassadors of Sochi.
Catching up with my former ski technician Aaron Haffey: A wizard with ski preparation, Haffey has moved from the US Team on to the Norwegian Team, but my most fun (and most successful) years were with Haf. It was great to see him and celebrate where life has taken us.
Getting photo-bombed by an older Russian gentleman: While sightseeing with NBC reporter/commenator, Bree Schaaf, naturally we wanted to take a picture. Mid-pose I feel a slight movement on my right side. There was Boris (not real name) trying to cozy up to us. His wife was not nearly as enthused. Classic.
Ted Ligety’s Gold: I’ve known Ted for over ten years. He did a magnificent job maintaining the an incredible amount of pressure, skiing aggressively, and delivering like a boss. I couldn’t be happier for him.