Nick Alfano: Top Ten Moments from the 2018 Pyeong Chang Olympics
1. Watching ‘Titans’ before it aired: To close NBC’s telecast at the end of every Olympic games, a highlight reel featuring the biggest and most heartfelt moments from the three week competition is set to the music from the movie Remember The Titans. It was my responsibility throughout the Olympics to watch every live event and select the shots and sound bites to be included in this piece. My control room had the privilege of seeing the final product the day before it aired, and there was not a dry eye in the room. By far the greatest moment of the games was to see what my hard work turned into, knowing that millions of American would see what I helped create.
2. Mike Tirico watching me dance: One of my producers made a Shaun White promo advertising his Halfpipe final. The song “Shooting Star” by Theo Chinara was the background music to the piece and everyone thought it was so catchy that we would dance to it multiple times a day. During a shift change, the entire control room including producers, editors, production assistants and interns was dancing to the song and Mike Tirico walked in looking to do a voice over. We all stopped for a moment and looked at the icon to see what our next move should be. Instead of giving us a weird look or telling us to stop, he encouraged us to keep going and jokingly gave us water in case the dancing was tiring us out.
3. Attending the USA vs. Russia Hockey game: The U.S versus Russia hockey rivalry is one of the most storied in international hockey, peaking with the Miracle on Ice in 1980. The game had a special atmosphere, and it is one thing that can be checked off my bucket list.
4. Meeting USA Curling Gold Medalist Matt Hamilton- Curling is a sport that sweeps the nation every four years during the Winter Olympics, and happens to be the only sports that has events every day of the games. Because of this, I covered more curling than any other sport. I became a huge fan of the Team USA Men’s Curling squad, and had to introduce myself and get a picture when they came to visit NBC in the International Broadcast Center.
5. Attending the U.S Cross-Country Skiing Press Conference- This event is cooler now after the fact, but I attended the U.S Cross-Country Skiing press conference one day before the start of the Olympics. There was a lot of hype surrounding the event because many thought this might be the year the women’s team wins an Olympics medal. Sure enough, Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall, who I met and talked to during the individual breakout sessions, won a gold medal in the team sprint.
6. Going to the Women’s Bobsled Final- I was not able to spend a lot of time at this event, but it was by far the coolest thing I saw. The racetrack is over a mile long of ice carved into a mountain, and the sleds fly by at over 80 miles per hour. With enormous fan support, it was a sight to behold.
7. Watching Team USA Women’s Hockey win the gold medal in the control room- As a wild sports fan myself, I always thought I would take the Olympic events, especially the ones that Team USA competed in, more seriously than 99.9% of the population. Well I found the .01% that cares more than me, and it’s the NBC Olympics employees. These journalists spend the year before the Olympics telling the stories of all the athletes. They delve in to where they’re from, their family, and how their past has built up to this moment. Thus, the NBC Olympics employees know the athletes on such a personal level, and their excitement to watch them succeed is unparalleled. My understanding of this took shape during the Team USA women’s gold medal hockey shootout victory over Canada. Our control room of 30 people crowded around one small TV, and was living and dying with every line change, change of possession, and eventual goals. It was awesome to be a part of.
8. My dad seeing me on the TODAY Show- One day after work, a fellow intern and I went to shop at the Olympic Superstore to get gifts for our families. As fate has it, the TODAY show studio was right next to the store. They were filming late at night in Korea, which was early morning in the U.S, so I texted my dad to see if he was watching, and he was. I set myself up in the audience right in between Hoda and Savannah and started jumping and waving. Sure enough, he could see me clear as day.
9. Going to the Ski Jump on the eve of opening ceremonies- The ski jump was the first Olympic event I attended. The action of the sport is not necessarily the most thrilling, but it was my first opportunity to see all of the people and flags from different nations coming together at a sporting event. It is a moment I will never forget.
10. Super Bowl Monday- I’m a Patriots’ fan, so I didn’t want to add this to the list, but I had to. Because of the time difference, the Super Bowl started at 8 a.m Monday morning in PyeongChang. All interested NBC employees gathered in the dining hall to watch the game surrounded by a half circle of 10 TVs. Naturally, I showed up in a Tom Brady jersey and was the loudest fan there. Yes, this was also the day of my intern orientation so I was not keeping the lowest profile. When the Patriots got down by a touchdown, Mike Tirico walked by and said to me, “You should be worried.” Needless to say, the game did not put me in the best mood to meet my bosses. At least the chicken wings they served at 10 a.m made me feel better.