CHASING OLYMPIC-SIZED DREAMS
When the joy of the accomplishment outweighs the exhaustion from the hard work
It’s crazy this was 10 years ago. This was a dream come true. As soon as it was announced the Olympics were going to be in my hometown, I made it my mission, to be there for it. I was still at UBC, and hadn’t even applied to Journalism school yet when the IOC announcement was made. But I knew I was going to work in news, and I knew I had to cover this monumental event in the city where I was raised.
Fast forward 7 years - I was in my first CBC job, working for CBC Manitoba. I worked as a Video Journalist & reporter - some days lugging around all the camera gear, other days having the luxury of having one of their amazing shooters accompany me. The CBC did not have the broadcast rights for the Olympics that year - it was the one year, CTV had the rights. So the CBC team was much less robust, with much less access, and covering each event came with a lot of restrictions. Still, I needed to find a way, to be part of the team somehow - so I made a pitch to my Managing Editor, send me as a VJ, as a one-man-band I’ll do strictly Manitoba stories, covering fans and athletes from the province. I’ll stay with my parents to cut costs, edit all of my material, and work out of the CBC Vancouver bureau. It was a good offer - and they took it!
It was my 4th year out of J-School, and probably the biggest undertaking in my broadcasting career, but in order to do the things you want- you’ve often gotta go that extra mile! I’m not going to lie, it was incredibly challenging. Lugging gear through packed streets, trying to shoot on-cameras with crazy fans around me, and no shooter to
help with crowd control. Then editing and feeding on a Central time deadline, while events were held at Pacific Time. Not to mention, only being able to use 3 seconds of footage, and a limited number of stills for each story, because when you’re not the official broadcaster, the broadcast restrictions are out of this world. There were some bad days, once - after multiple takes (because of people jumping into my shot and yelling) I had one final take that worked and wasn't marred by fandemonium, but I didn’t hit record. I hustled back to the station with what I thought was a clean version of my top and tail (an on-camera intro and outro for your story for those not in broadcast). There was nothing on the tape, but a shot of the ground as I walked back to the station. My computer crashed on another day, after I had just finished finally editing my full package. The hastily re-cut version was a disaster, and I was most certainly made aware of it! But - the experience was worth every challenge.
I remember being out watching the events with my gear (always) when a golden win came through, and it was a Manitoban athlete! Jon Montgomery slid onto the podium and had the iconic beer-walking moment. Watching video of that moment totally brings me back to how exhilarating it was to be celebrating with fans in Vancouver. I head out immediately with my mic and camera to get reaction from people watching - there’s really nothing more electric than a home crowd after a gold medal win.
Then there was the gold medal hockey game. Wow, wow, wow. Again, with my gear in a bar, watching the game, and taking in the reaction.
No photo or video can capture that feeling. It didn’t matter that I was up late every night watching the events and making sure I captured Manitoba moments, then waking up early to hit that Central time deadline. It was grueling, anyone who has worked the Olympics will tell you that - but it’s an unforgettable experience - and one I was determined to have in my hometown at all costs.
I know hard work isn’t fun. But I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had to sacrifice and work their tail off to achieve their goals. At the time for me, this was an Olympic-sized dream, and I was ready to put everything I had into it. When I look back now, it actually blows me away that I set my mind to it, and made it happen, one way or the other. I need to remind myself that things are more within my reach than I make myself believe! Next goal - actually being part of a CBC olympic coverage team, when we HAVE broadcast rights!