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 (fiscrosscountry.com, 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.