As the Winter Olympics have unfolded a half a world away, SportsCenter viewers have been informed and entertained for the past two weeks thanks to the work of reporters Michael Eaves and T.J. Quinn and the team of ESPN staff on hand in South Korea. As the Games close in on the finish line, Front Row caught up with the duo:
What’s been the most intriguing story you’ve covered at the Winter Olympics?
Eaves: The emergence of Chloe Kim as a bona fide American sports star: Not only is she the best in the world at what she does, but her personality is infectious. She is everything anyone would ever want in an athlete, and she was a tremendous representation of America during these games. Plus, winning gold in her first Olympics, which were being held in her parents’ home country, is one of the best Olympic stories in recent memory.
Quinn: It might be the [gold-medal winning] U.S. women’s hockey team. They’ve had this Captain Ahab-like quest of the Canadians for 16 years, and have tried to reinvent hockey in the process. They were back in the gold-medal game, facing their white whale, in what is perhaps the best rivalry in these games. They also led a fight for equality in their sport and have a goalie who’s all of 20. Everywhere you turn with them there’s a compelling story line.
What are some of the factors contributing to SportsCenter’s successful coverage from PyeongChang?
Eaves: Our team of producers here in South Korea (Jim Witalka and Tony Florkowski) are the main reasons. Not only are they responsible for scheduling and shooting interviews, they are also involved in logistics and live shots for the SportsCenter talent as well as those from our digital team. Jim and Tony were great [at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio], and they definitely brought their “A” game to PyeongChang as well.
Quinn: The work has gone fairly smoothly thanks to a couple of factors. First, we have a small staff, but almost everyone here has worked the Olympics before and knows the ins and outs. Second, these games have been well organized and all of the sites are fairly close to each other and eminently manageable. Jim and Tony really do an incredible job of keeping the machine moving. We also, frankly, have some amazing colleagues who are a lot of fun to be around. That certainly makes long workdays easier to bear.