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Language, logistics among challenges of SC Featured story production (Part 2)

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part preview of Sunday’s ESPN SportsCenter Featured segment “At the Top of the World.” The first part ran yesterday on Front Row.

Imagine trying to communicate with a group of people in a language only spoken by about 50,000 people in the entire world.

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That’s one of the challenges Chris Bloxom faced while producing “At the Top of the World,” an SC Featured segment debuting Sunday morning on Outside the Lines (ESPN, 9 a.m. ET) and SportsCenter (ESPN, 10 a.m.). The story focuses on the Sherpa people of Nepal and their life after the tragic Mount Everest avalanche of a year ago.

Bloxom and his team worked with a Sherpa interpreter in Nepal when conducting interviews for the feature, but the exchanges weren’t always smooth.

There were a couple of points where it became like a really bad game of ‘Telephone’.
– Chris Bloxom on the challenges of working with a Sherpa interpreter

“The challenge obviously became when I’m doing interviews and I’m asking him a question in English, and then he’s translating it and asking them and answering back in Sherpa,” Bloxom said. “And then he’s retranslating it in English for me so I can know what he said to ask the next question.

“There were a couple of points where it became like a really bad game of ‘Telephone’,” he said. “Like, you get an answer back and that wasn’t the question you asked. And you don’t know where the miscommunication is coming from. But for the most part, we were pretty solid.”

Lack of electricity in many areas they visited was also an issue.

“Every day you have to have a plan on how you’re going to recharge [camera] batteries,” he said. “And we can’t bring lights because there’s no way to plug them in.”

Then there was the issue of cold temperatures.

“We’re not necessarily outfitted to go into the Himalayas,” he said. “I spent a day researching. I needed a negative 20-degree sleeping bag because it’s negative five degrees there and I have no heat. So you get into those kinds of things.”

But Bloxom, who has been with ESPN since 2002, would not trade the experience of visiting a place on the other side of the world.

“Your work sometimes blinds you to the surroundings you’re in because you’re so focused on getting to this place and doing this,” he said.

“We spent hours and hours hiking and climbing every day, and we had built-in downtime where we’re absorbing, being in the presence. I think we saw probably three or four of the highest mountains in the world.

“It was definitely an amazing adventure.”

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