It was the highlight of the 2022 Winter Olympics for Team GB - securing gold in women’s curling on the final day of the Beijing Games - and Huddersfield lecturer David Easson was there to cover it.
The competition was the sixth Olympiad that Easson has covered for the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) and the sports journalism lecturer helped to bring the gripping curling contests to screens around the world.
He covered both of Team GB’s only medals - that top prize after the women beat Japan 10-3 and a silver for the men’s curling team after they narrowly lost out to Sweden in the final.
It was the second winter games in a row where he has covered curling by interviewing athletes in the media zone on the ice.
The curling was held in the Ice Cube next to the famous Bird’s Nest stadium in the complex built for the 2008 summer games.
“I like it, it’s very British in a kind of way, a bit like snooker, darts or bowls. It is a very mental, cerebral sport,” he continues.
The OBS produces the live television, radio and digital coverage of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The coverage is neutral, favouring no particular country or athlete.
“Our content has been used by Eurosport and NBC, but it has to be for everybody,” Easson says.
“It has to be neutral and we don’t talk about anything negative, so you don’t criticise the venue or the ice.
“I had some sweary Danish curlers, who debated what was or was not a swear word in their own language.
“I like talking to the Brits, who are great, but I have to be even-handed and neutral speaking to them.
“They always show up and always say something good, you get a nice relationship with them over the two weeks.
“I also get to chat to the other crews like NBC and CBC from Canada.”
Easson’s experience in China was very different to most of his previous Olympics, due to the pandemic.
The media, like athletes, were kept in distinct bubbles.
“It’s been a very different Olympics, we were essentially in a closed loop where we travelled from hotel to venue by bus, and that’s it,” he says.
“It still looks and feels like an Olympics, but you couldn’t go out and socialise.”
Easson hopes that his students at the University of Huddersfield can follow his lead, covering a range of sports after they graduate.
“I always use the Olympics and other global events to open students’ eyes to what’s available out there and what you can do,” he says.
“I try to impress on them that they can use the skills they picked up at university to do more than they ever thought they could do, especially as a sports journalist.
“People tend to narrow it down to high-profile work like commentating on Match of the Day or working for Sky Sports News, but the OBS use over 8,000 people of differing skills at an Olympics.
“There is a World Curling Tour, so you could get on that and work with athletes every day, make films and other content.”
Olympic games often produce quirky and eccentric stories for Easson and Beijing has been no different.
One piece he filmed looked at how the locals helped to make Team GB’s Scottish athletes feel right at home, by embracing a Celtic traditions.
“There were no Scottish highland pipers at the games, so they had six guys from Beijing who learnt to play bagpipes,” he says.
“They were really good, and we made a feature about that.”
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