I have some exciting news to share.
In a few weeks, I depart to Sochi to cover the 2014 Winter Olympics.
I have known about this for a few months, but only in the past few weeks has it truly started to feel real. I will be representing my station, WXIA-TV in Atlanta, as well as other stations in the Gannett family. We received our press passes and flight schedule in the mail this past week, and we have started to discuss in-depth how we will cover this gargantuan event.
As I look forward to the Olympic experience, I cannot help but think back to my last one.
In 2010 I was one of several journalists selected by our company to cover the Vancouver Olympics. I had arrived in Atlanta less than a year earlier, and I remember my sincere shock in being given the Olympic assignment.
The experience exceeded my expectations.
Nearly four years since, here is what stands out:
1) I worked my butt off. I am pretty sure I used an entire year’s worth of adrenaline in three Vancouver weeks. We worked non-stop, with live shots, story shoots, early-morning wake-up calls, late-night finishes, and everything in between. Typically I would not return to my hotel room until 9:30-10 PM, after 12-13 hours of work.
2) I fed off the Olympic electricity. Working that hard was made much easier by simply being in the Olympic atmosphere. On a given day, I would meet people from any number of different countries, take in a new Vancouver experience, and enjoy the energy that comes with such a spectacle.
3) The Olympics are full of famous people. Ever visit Los Angeles? If you hang around Hollywood or Rodeo Drive long enough, you will probably see a celebrity. Same with the Olympics — and especially as a journalist. I was blown away in Vancouver. One minute, I was covering the women’s bobsled; the next, I was interviewing Michael Buble.
4) The experience flies by … and yet doesn’t. In Vancouver I was surrounded by magnificent sights and sounds, immersing myself in the Olympic experience and savoring the opportunity to tell stories on such a grand level. At the same time, I was living out of a hotel, working in a cramped space, dealing with the difficulties (mostly electronically) of being in a foreign country, eating meals sporadically, and ending each day with just enough energy to plop my head on the pillow. In every way, from the highs to the hard parts, the Olympic experience is abnormal and extraordinary.
This time around will be markedly different in ways I will cover in future entries. But I will always remember Vancouver as a crowning moment of my first decade as a journalist.
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Matt Pearl is the author of the Telling the Story blog and podcast. Feel free to comment below or e-mail Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.