Day Four (2/16)
Did a couple of games today.... the Finns smoked Switzerland and the Slovaks beat Russia in a mild upset.
What few people know is that all games at my venue "Torino Esposizione" were almost cancelled because the ice plant in the building had a problem and shut down for 15 minutes... another 10 minutes and the ice would have been un-usable for 6 hours... it would have been a scheduling nightmare moving forward... they managed to fix the issue but ice conditions were poor as the Swedes beat Switzerland... conditions improved for late game.
Busy time... another 2 games tomorrow, Russia-Sweden & Canada-Germany... some broadcasters here are doing three a day... all of us are looking forward to Friday when we have a day off from competition.
This is the Italian house... every country at the Olympics has one where they promote and sell all kinds of Nationalistic stuff.
...off to bed.
Day Three (2/15)
Today was really a final prep day before the Men’s Tournament starts…. In the past 36 hours, I’ve been at practices for Latvia, Switzerland, Russia, Slovakia, Czech Rebublic, Finland, Sweden & Kazahkstan…. We try and figure out line combinations and then participate in a media scrum where you get about 2 minutes with 3 or 4 key people from each team (players, coaches, managers, etc.)
Some interesting “tidbits”….
- The snowstorm in the East really made a mess of many player’s travel plans… several players did not arrive in Torino until 3 pm on the day prior to their first game… this means they will be severely jet lagged in their first game or two of the round robin portion of the tournament. If lesser lights Switzerland, Germany, or Khazahkstan are to pull an upset, their best chance may be on Day 1 or 2 of the competition.
- Several players lost their equipment and may not be able to play if their skates don’t show up before tomorrow… included on this list: Nick Lidstrom, Mattias Ohlund, Sammy Pahlsson of the Swedes and Teemu Selanne & Teppo Numminen of the Finns…. Hope it arrives tonight.
- Slava Fetisov is now Director of Sport in Russia (for the last 4 years)…. Vladimir Putin gave him $2 billion to revitalize all facets of all amateur sports in Russia; competitive national team programs, recreational facilities, etc…. over the next 10 years, he claims they will build 4,000 new sports facilities including 400-500 new skating rinks… if the Russian Men’s Ice Hockey Team wins gold, each player will receive $200,000 from the Russian government… I will hit Vish. & Ilja up for a sizable loan.
- Because of the Rick Tocchet betting scandal that has pulled the name Gretzky into the investigation, the I.O.C. (by request from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) has designated Wayne Gretzky as “an Olympic venue”. This means primary broadcast rights-holders CBC and NBC have exclusive access to The Great One…. No one can talk to Wayne without CBC & NBC having the right to be present; essentially this means the 2 networks have the right to dis-allow any request involving Wayne.
FYI, the Russians and Czechs looked scary good at practice. Both seem to be on a mission.
Let the Games begin!
DAY TWO (2/14)
Body clock needs adjustment… wide awake at 4am so I figured I’d get an early start on the day… A local girl Francesca in the NBC logistics office suggested I take a walk around the surrounding neighborhood… it turns out that our hotel is located in the heart of the shopping district and also where the ‘Today Show’ set is located (FYI they start shooting live at 1 pm local time)…. Leather goods are a specialty.
Beautiful day…. 45 degrees and sunny.
At 6 am outside, Turin is busy… buses everywhere…. This is the land of narrow streets, tall buildings and especially tiny little cars… there is an espresso cafe on every corner… people are very relaxed…. The service at the hotel is outstanding yet laid back at the same time… tough to describe.
Stat of the day… there are about 1,000,000 people in Turin…. In the late 80’s, the population was higher at about 1.2 million. The Fiat automotive empire has fallen on hard times and the economy here is largely dependent on Fiat… hence the reason for chasing after the Games to reinvigorate the local economy.
DAY ONE! Arrival in Torino (2/13)
Ever fly Lufthansa? I give them a hearty thumbs up…. What they say about German engineering and efficiency is bang on! My business class seat even had a lumbar spine massage function!! It’s the little things in life…..
Full on snooze for about 3 hours before I landed in Frankfurt (9.5 hour flight)…. The no smoking in public places thing hasn’t quite caught on in Germany it seems… showering seems optional for some folks as well. Security at Frankfurt airport is high; I passed through 6 security checkpoint just to transfer from my arrival gate to my Torino departure gate….. 2 hour layover in Frankfurt, then a 1.5 hour jaunt to Torino.
The NBC logistics people have done an amazing job….(most of them have been in Torino for 6-8 weeks already) Essentially they have created their own public transit system exclusively for NBC personnel; buses, shuttle vans, and small 4 passenger cars (all Fiats… the Fiat world headquarters is in Turin/Torino)… and every street in the city has a ‘TOROC lane’… sort of a diamond lane for all official Olympic transport vehicles to use exclusively. They also handed me a local cell phone… wherever I need to go, I call logistics and they’ll have transportation arranged within a half hour… it also means everyone working the hockey portion of the games is in constant contact, no matter what venue we are at.
My first impression of Torino was… “where the heck is the snow?”… 50 degrees at 2 pm when I left the airport…. It cools to below freezing once the sun goes down.
Fought to stay awake until 10 pm…. Watched the CDN women’s team pummel the Russians 12-0 at the “Esposizione” (a 6,000 seat hockey venue the Italians have created inside what is normally a 8,000 sq ft exhibition hall)… the ice conditions are good; media set-up is excellent…. tomorrow I’ll watch the Finns and the Swiss Men’s team practice here at the “Espo” on the adjacent practice rink… I will also check out the other hockey venue “Palasport Olympico” (12,000 seat mini NHL-style rink where all semi-final and final hockey games will be staged.
Enjoyed a 9 pm (local) nightcap with my broadcast brethren at the Hotel… here’s a scoop; they have rather excellent red wines here!
Off to bed at 10 pm (1 hour I’m told before many local nightspots OPEN!)
Leaving Vancouver for Torino, Italy (2/11)
Departure day and I am getting excited. The first photo I snapped was of me and my gear outside the Pan Pacific Hotel in Vancouver…. We really rough it on the road as you can see. I’m told it rained for 29 consecutive days before the Ducks arrived in town… then the skies turned blue before the team pasted the Canucks in their own building. Naturally the Vancouver media vilified their team today… brought a smile to my face….
Note that I’m bringing just one travel bag and my laptop. NBC tells me I’ll be completely decked out in NBC apparel; jackets, pants, hats, gloves… a major swag coup for yours truly.
From Vancouver, I fly to Frankfurt Germany, lay over for a couple hours before the direct flight to Torino. By the way, NBC wants all announce teams to refer to our destination city as Torino and NOT Turin (it’s called by both internationally)… do we now refer to the religious icon as ‘the shroud of Torino’?
My broadcast schedule:
Feb 15… Finland-Switzerland and Russia-Slovakia
Feb 16… Sweden-Russia and Canada-Germany
Feb 18… Sweden-Latvia and Czechs-Finland
Feb 19… Germany-Switzerland and Slovakia-Kazhakstan
Feb 21… Finland-Germany
Feb 22… Quarterfinal
Feb 23… return home
My prep. notes are almost done for all 12 teams in the Men’s draw… FYI, Kazhakstan has the following players on the roster: Sergei Ogureshnikov, Andrei Pchelyakov, and my favorite to pronounce Andrei Samokhvalov. Possibly none of these players will touch the puck on our broadcast!
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim television analyst Brian Hayward was named to the broadcast team of NBC Universal for the 2006 Torino Olympic Winter Games.