You want to know what is more intense than competing in the Olympic Games? Covering the Olympic Broadcast. Ok, I am kidding. Well, mostly kidding. Little do the primed and pampered (deservedly so) athletes realize, but there is a whole other world taking place behind the scenes to transmit their experience to the television screens in their home country. People kept asking me if there was any trepidation to return to the Olympics as something other than a competitor. Answering honestly, I replied that I couldn’t be more excited. When I retired after Vancouver I left the sport with love, satisfaction, and an unspoken goal that I would be heading to Sochi to do some sort of broadcast work.
When a string of happy events connected me to The Weather Channel I was thrilled when offered a chance to be their Olympic Correspondent in Sochi. After months of meetings and preparation, I finally arrived in Sochi on February 3rd. The moment I landed I hit the ground running. I am staying in the Coastal Cluster next to the Black Sea, just outside the Olympic Park which is very cool; the excitement and pageantry can be heard from my window. However, almost every day producer Mike Jenkins, cameraman/editor Matt Saffer, and I head to the mountains. The is one of the most contained Olympic Games ever, but it still adds between two and four hours of traveling every day to be covering the altitude dependent events from below. I have become abundantly familiar with the road from Sochi to Krasnaya Polyana. I don’t mind though- it is fun to see all the different events and daily partake in the interesting juxtaposition of the wintry landscape up high and the borderline tropical atmosphere down low. Admittedly a lot of my time has been on a bus.
The Weather Channel is a member of the NBC family so we have unbelievable clearance at all the venues, but since we are covering the athletes and weather conditions leading up to the events, we are mostly following the official training schedule and catching them a few days before their “big day.” I like it that way though. I understand the pressure these athletes are going through since not too long ago I was in the same situation. And with weather as the main topic of conversation, my job is relatively easy since virtually every sport in the winter games is intimately impacted by it. Interviewing the athletes a bit before their event allows them to be more relaxed, but still pulsating with the intensity and focus that only the Olympics can inspire.One of the most fun aspects of my new role is that it’s like a big reunion wherever I go. Many of these athletes I haven’t seen in four years and when they see me in the broadcast mixed zone, mic in hand, they are always surprised. Hearing “KAY-LEEN!!” cried by my old World Cup and Olympic buddies never gets old… The last two weeks have gone by in a blur and I look forward to digesting them on the long plane ride home. I’ve made notes as time passes of the great times I’ve had (blog-worthy ones at least), but I don’t have time to give them justice quite yet. At the current moment- you guessed it- I have to hustle to catch a bus!GO TEAM USA!!
With love from Russia,