Only two more full days here in Gangneung before we all fly back home! These past two weeks have been an unreal blessing and filled with lessons, trials, excitement and joy. While I love arriving back in Vancouver (I lovvveeee Vancouver, don’t even get me started!), leaving this place is going to be really hard.
If you caught Thomas’ entry from Wednesday, you’ll know that he went behind the scenes and expanded on some of the work that goes on in regards to the live feed broadcast. In a similar fashion and in reflection of the entire programme, I wanted to give you a verbal tour of what it is I have been blessed to work on. I can get pretty personal/emotional when it comes to blog posts (as you may have already seen), so when I think “blogging” I think, “alright, it’s time to share some of my inner thoughts.” Today will be a little more straightforward.
Games start at 9am every morning. We walk to the arena and make sure we have a clear understanding of the game while it’s going on - who is playing, how teams are ranked, who has the last stone advantage and where they lie going into their next games. While round robin is over and play-offs are in full swing, the scheduled round robin sessions had a 9am, 2pm and 7pm session start. When the round robin games were still on, we were encouraged to watch as much of the game as possible in order to generate valid insight to create genuine questions. Mike Haggerty, my mentor, is a pro at this - he watches the games, develops a good understanding of what is going on and then when it comes time to head down to the mix zone, he blasts out questions that garner a great response. The questions he asks aren’t cut and dry either, they’re interesting and it’s almost as though he is having a conversation with the athletes.
For myself, I watch the games, and since I am not 100% familiar with curling, I write notes down as the games go along, taking note of important ends and key shots. Games can take anywhere between two and three hours, so when the games finish, we walk (sometimes run) down to the mix zone. We exit the building, go outside, down a flight of stairs and back inside to get there.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the mix zone is the area where athletes pass through before they return back to their dressing rooms. Most often we speak with the winning skip, but sometimes it is also the losing skip. This has been a huge test - for myself and the athletes as well. Imagine having to give an interview after losing a game - not fun for the athletes and definitely a test for myself in knowing what boundaries not to cross. I do my best to ask two to three questions, and sometimes more if time permits. The greatest part of this is that I developed some good connections with the skips, and sometimes the vice skips. I think I interviewed Canadian skip, Kristin Streifel, five times and American skip Andrew Stopera four times (tied with Switzerland, Norway, Russia and Sweden). It’s so neat to see the different emotions that come through, as the mix zone is pretty much the first place they go after a game - the emotions can be pretty raw, especially in terms of excitement, disappointment, sadness and relief.
Growing up in the sport of track and field, I came to know what track athletes look like, sound like and how they carry themselves. Sometimes they can be a bit brash - that’s just the way it goes. Curling athletes are completely different. While there are some teams that have confidence, it doesn’t appear to be over the top or cocky. The first word I used to describe curling players was humble. Then calm. Then characteristic of having integrity. I admire that so much, as I simply am not used to that in track and field. Not saying it doesn’t happen, but it is much more rare. Simply, a different sport!
After we interview, we make sure we have all of our quotes. This sometimes means running upstairs to check the next game and then racing back downstairs because that game has ended and we need to interview someone. Overall, we were able to interview every single team, both men and women. How neat is that?!
We come back upstairs and transcribe our quotes. This means listening to what we have asked and taking the athletes words and writing them out. Then, depending on who is writing the game round up, Mike, Cameron and myself communicate who we send our quotes to. In the case of USA and Canada, we work in tandem with their governing curling bodies (Curling Canada and USA Curling) to provide quotes for their write-ups. In a few instances, www.insidethegames.biz
even took some of our quotes too! A newspaper back home in Surrey, British Columbia, took quotes from Curling Canada - our conversations again! How neat is that?!
The session round-up (a full report on who won, who lost, the consequences and advancements) is created and we then have the large task of updating our social media - Facebook and Twitter mainly and usually Instagram at the start or end of each day. The round up must be posted, a Facebook album is added to with images from both Richard and Tom, Chris Hamilton back in the World Curling Federation headquarters in Scotland updates the live feed highlights to both sites and there are a host of other items to take care of. We also use Adobe Photoshop to edit the game fixture and result pages. These items are posted as well, and whatever we do on Facebook, we mirror on Twitter. All of the social media tasks are shared between Cameron and I and we make sure we know who has posted what on which sites.To check out all this work you can see the round-ups on this event page and you can follow the WCF on social media - @worldcurling and www.facebook.com/WorldCurlingFederation