Thursday, November 29, 2012

Race time!

I mentioned in my first post that my job would constantly evolve and so would my role with it. That has turned out to be already true. Today I officially became the guy in front of the camera. We filmed with the large camera in the stadium where I interviewed the FIS Race Direct (my big boss), and then I had a follow up with Guri Hetland the head coach for the Swiss, and to top it off I had an in house interview with three of the big Norwegian sprinters, which wasn't so much a controlled interview as it was a "let's hit record and see what happens". The Norwegian piece was done with my little G12 camera as my computer won't play nice with the big camera which ruined most of today's work. However, I think that problem has been solved. The racing begins tomorrow at 11:30 am local time which is 7 hours ahead of East Coast time. It will be the qualification rounds. The elimination rounds will begin at 1:30pm (6:30 am EST). I think Kikkan is ready to win her first classic sprint....she actually hasn't been on the podium in a classic sprint but she is ready to win! I am off to the opening ceremonies dinner. Santa will be there, and reindeer is on the menu = ironic! Here is the video with the Norwegians.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Camera one, camera two

So...I tried my hand at being in front of the camera today for a new piece called 'Inside the Fence'. So far it seems to have been well received. I already see lot's of space for improvement. It will be a weekly segment as long as I can find the time each week to do the editing. That takes by far the most time. The FIS crew arrives tonight so it might be another day or so before I get another post up. Hope everyone is well. Here is the link to the youtube video: As well as some pics from this morning.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Kuusamo!....Actually we're in Ruka, Finland

After a 6 hour bus ride Monday I arrived in Ruka, Finland. A small resort town about 20km outside of Kuusamo. This is a big weekend for competitions. It is known as the Ruka Triple on the World Cup calendar. Along with the three cross-country race days starting Friday, there will also be World Cup Nordic Combined (NC) and Ski Jumping. The Finn's love their ski jumping so the atmosphere should be amazing. I think we are still above the arctic circle or at least close to it, but there is not much snow. However, the entire 2.5km race loop has great depth but icy due to recent cold temps and lot's of snow making. It was clear today but with the sun just above the horizon we never felt it's warmth.
Most of the World Cup teams have arrived now. I followed Kikkan and the US team to do strength tonight and we shared the weight room with the German, Swiss, Norwegian, Ukrainian, Polish, Japanese (NC), Russian (NC) teams. It was a full house and a great way to pick up some new training exercises! I was at first just a bystander but got the itch and jumped in on some power cleans with the US guys and will now be sore for most of what remains of this week. I had a great ski with Kikkan this morning around the course with a GoPro camera on (It will be up on the FIS cross-country website tomorrow). Fortunately, the camera was always pointed to where I was looking and not at me as I started to flail when my under trained arms started to fall apart. It was a humbling experience to not be able to hang with Kikk in a double pole sprint! However it was great to be active again after a previous week of zero exercise. The rest of the FIS team comes in tomorrow evening so I will fit in one more ski tomorrow morning and then it will be back to the craziness that is the World Cup. Here is a picture of the Ruka Mtn base village. I am staying in the race hotel with mostly the Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping teams. It is the large building just left of center. Many of the cross-country teams stay in condo/apartments right at the edge of the ski trails. The trails are a short 5 min walk downhill from my hotel...and the long 5 min walk back up after skiing for 90 min!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gällivare, Sweden - Week 1

My 4.5 month World Cup adventure began this past week in Gällivare, Sweden. After travelling for two days from Anchorage to 100km north of the arctic circle in Sweden. My flight plans included a stop in Minnapolis, Amsterdam, Stockholm and then a small charter flight to Gällivare. A small mining town of 18,000 people (on a side note we had 10,000 spectators are Saturday's race). The airport was so busy in Gällivare that when we landed once we slowed down we turned 180 degrees and then taxied but up that same runway... I jumped right into my new job with FIS. After months of wondering I have finally been able to focus the lens a bit on what exactly it is that I will be doing. Primarily it will be my responsibility to provide/upload content to the multiple FIS media outlets (, FIS Cross-Country facebook page, and fiscc twitter. So if you want to check out the latest from FIS Cross-Country it will most likely be my brain that translated it, and my hands that typed it. It's actually a fun role as I am not really considered to be a journalist in the since that I create news to post for peoples entertainment but provide the basic news so that media outlets can use it. This was only week one, and I can already see how my role in this regard will evolve. Already I can see from the traffic to the facebook page that pictures from the venue and during the races are a huge draw as well as live interviews. And that leads me to my other roles. Already this week I have sat in a Swedish ski team press conference and personally interview Charlotte Kalla. I didn't understand one word of the press conference but in meeting all these athletes saying that I am Kikkan's husband is a form of World Cup currency. There are four of us that represent FIS at the sport level. Pierre Mignery is the Race Director, Sandra Spitz is the Event Coordinator, and Michael Lamplot Events and Media manager. I work most closely with Michael. Together this week we have already conducted short interviews with Marit Bjoergen, Martin Johnsrud Sundby, Curdin Perl, Remo Fischer, Charlotte Kalla, Head Swedish coach Richard Grip, Justyna Kowalczyk, and Dario Cologna. During the World Cup weekends we provide content for the live TV broadcast by recording "flash" interviews. I am the camera man when it comes to this work. The interviews are then used before each race. In this regard I am also the content man as well. I watch the races and then text Michael talking points for post race finish area live interviews as well as during the post race press conference. It has been fascinating to get a glimpse at what it takes to pull off a World Cup in a TV and marketing capacity. During the race the signage of sponsors is constantly monitored during the race to make sure their view is not obstructed by coaches, wax techs or fans. I will have to work on my live interviewing and my camera voice. I have never liked the sound of my own voice on the answering....much worse during an interview! In the coming weeks I will develop a weekly piece called Trackside with Jeff...or something like that where I will bring attention to some kind of behind the scenes work that takes place on World Cup. First up next week will be to follow a friend on the Swedish wax team as he arrives on site, preps skis for the athletes he is responsible for, and tests with them. I will also begin each week to preview the race courses by skiing around with a camera and profiling the course. I have somewhat of an open book for video ideas, it just comes down to the time to pull it off. As I saw this week, "time" will be the difficult part. This being the start of the World Cup season and everyone that I work having just moved up the ladder into in positions (which created space for me on the bottom rung) it was a long couple of days. I think we averaged around 12 hrs a day. But I think that I will for sure get more efficient as I become more familiar with my role. Ok that is probably enough of an update for now. I am sure I skipped half of what I meant to write. On the racing side of things Kikkan has started the season in incredible form. She took third yesterday in the 10km skate (she just started to skate again 4 weeks ago after recovering from a stress fracture in her foot), and then today she rocked the fastest classic leg of the 4x5km relay (first two legs are classic and second two are skate), which brought the US back into contention for a podium spot which they achieved with a "dig deep" effort for youngster Jessie Diggins on the anchor leg. That is a first ever for the US women and maybe ever for the US...not sure on that. Canada's men were in contention for a podium spot but in the final 1/2 km Alex Harvey lost two positions to settle for 5th. Pretty cool stuff.