The Sochi Winter Olympics is upon us and it brings me back some 26 years to when I covered the winter games in Calgary. I was with WKBW-TV at the time and was assigned to spend two weeks in Calgary covering the games with photographer Jay Laurie. It was a great experience and a brutal two weeks.

People think that when you attend the Olympics you get a close up look at the biggest moments, wrong! The games are always spread across a large geographical area to accommodate the many events. That is especially the case with the Winter Olympics because of the huge areas needed for the skiing events.

In Calgary we had to deal with the three hour time difference which is nothing compared to the nine hour difference in Sochi. That did mean however that our day was governed by the live satellite shots we did back to Buffalo for the Five, Six and Eleven o’clock news. So many times events were not over, but we would rush back to the ABC facility to edit our stories and do the live feed without knowing the outcome of the event we just left.

Ironically one of the serious issues Calgary had to deal with was the lack of winter weather. In February of 1988 Calgary had the misfortune of experiencing an ill-timed Chinook. A Chinook is a warm westerly wind that originates along the Pacific coast and while it would normally bring a great respite from the freezing temperatures, it’s not what you want during outdoor Olympic events.

The bobsled and skiing events were affected by the warm weather and our nightly live shots from Calgary featured more grass than snow in the back ground. The brand new winter gear I purchased was also a waste of money as the weather was milder than the same period in Buffalo.

One thing I can relate to the issues in Sochi is the living quarters provided for the media. While we did have clear water and plenty of shower curtains our housing was a bit spartan. The Calgary committee put many of the visiting media in brand new dorm facilities at the University of Calgary and other colleges. The rooms were completed just days before we arrived and were colder at night than the temps outside during the day. I slept with my coat on most nights since the rooms had no thermostat and they provided us with only one thin blanket. The rooms also had sheets for curtains so when the sun came up your room lit up with it.

Being at the 1988 Winter Olympics did provide me with the opportunity to cover such events as Bonnie Blair winning Gold in Speed Skating and the heartbreak of Dan Jansen falling in both of his races to miss a medal entirely. There was also Brian Boitano edging out Canada’s Brian Orser and Katarina Witt defending her Olympic Gold.

Calgary was also a different time in the world when there was no serious concern about terrorists. Media Security was only tight in regards to the ABC Network preventing reporters from showing video ahead of the predetermined blackout window to protect their rights deal.

Actually I was almost thrown out of the Olympic games during the Opening Ceremonies because Jay Laurie and I were caught recording the parade of athletes. Only the ABC Network cameras could record the festivities taking place on the field and we were caught doing segments with the athletes marching behind us. The ABC “cops” grabbed us and walked us to a room where they tried to remove our media credentials, but we refused and one call back to Buffalo got us out of “TV jail”.

The Olympics in Sochi will bring back plenty of memories and hopefully these games will be known for the performances on the field of competition and not the threat of terrorism which now makes up our world.


Filed under: Koshinski's Korner

Tagged with: , , ,

Readers Comments (0)

Sorry, comments are closed on this post.