For Norman Whitehurst, the chance to visit the French Alps is all about work.
As Coordinating Producer, ESPN International at the X Games in Tignes, France from March 20-22, Whitehurst is responsible for bringing together the entire production with the French broadcaster Canal +.
“My role is to work with the ESPN producers and Canal + producers to get everyone on same page since we are all producing the same event,’’ said Whitehurst, who began with ESPN in 1994 working on soccer telecasts and started working on the X Games in Tignes three years ago.
“It is collaborative in every way.”
What makes these X Games unique is they take place high above sea level in the Alps, a four-hour bus ride from Geneva, Switzerland.
“Definitely it is an experience driving on winding roads with no guard rails getting to this remote place where Internet access is spotty,’’ Whitehurst said.
“But the scene is absolutely great. The athletes love it and there is plenty of spirit shown by fans, especially the French and Italians. It’s like a mini-Olympics.”
Whitehurst also led production teams for several UEFA Champions League Soccer finals in Manchester, England; Paris, Istanbul and Athens.
He also led the team for ESPN International’s Super Bowl XLV coverage in Dallas two years ago.
For the three days of competition in Tignes, Whitehurst and staff are up at 6 a.m. and ready to air by 10:30 a.m. while knowing they likely will be working in the truck well into the night. Then there’s only time for bed and starting the process again the next day.
“We always keep in mind that our work gives us the opportunity to expose all ESPN viewers to the X Games,’’ he said.
Stephane Bouclier, director of the WXG international feed in Tignes, is a freelance director for Canal +.
Bouclier enjoys collaborating with the ESPN team.
“I think ESPN, like C+, is always looking to improve the TV coverage of an event, year after year,” Bouclier said.
“This year, ESPN proposed to use an aerial drone camera on the slopestyle. It’s a great idea. It will give beautiful wide shots.”