San Diego to Beijing

NBC 7 Anchor Steven Luke in Beijing: ‘The Most Rocking Olympic Moment I've Experienced'

NBC 7's Steven Luke is in Beijing, China covering the 2022 Winter Olympics from Jan. 4th to the 20th.

NBC 7 anchor Steven Luke stands inside the Big Air Shougang Olympic venue with his camera gear at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Feb. 9, 2022.
Steven Luke

Wed. Feb. 9th:

👟 Took a trip to one of the most talked about spots at the Winter Olympics today. It’s the Big Air Shougang Olympic venue, which sits in the middle of an old industrial complex. It is as wild and surreal in person as it is on TV. The venue looks like a giant snow slide with shuttered manufacturing towers in the background. What are those towers? If you believe everything you read on social media, you’d think they’re part of a nuclear power plant, but the area was home to the first state-owned steel plant in China: The Shougang Group steel mill. I posted a bunch of pictures on my Facebook page if you’d like to see a few more.

My San Diego colleague who is the technical lead for our small team of NBC owned and operated local stations here in China joined me on this trip.

NBC 7 anchor Steven Luke (left) and NBC 7 Media Manager Jason Guinter (right) pose for a photo at the Big Air Shougang Olympic venue in Beijing, Feb. 9, 2022.
Steven Luke
NBC 7 anchor Steven Luke (left) and NBC 7 Media Manager Jason Guinter (right) pose for a photo at the Big Air Shougang Olympic venue in Beijing, Feb. 9, 2022.

We scheduled a car to pick us up at the hotel and drive us out to the Big Air complex. It’s not as far as the mountain venues, but it is the farthest event within the Beijing city cluster and took about 45 minutes door-to-door. A friendly Chinese volunteer (there’s tons of them wearing their blue and white coats within the Olympic bubble) directed us to the onsite media complex where you can find a cubby, plug in a computer, and get stuff done. We didn’t stay there long because we’d been approved to go inside the stadium for observer seats.

An OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) manager pointed up to a rooftop deck above the broadcast booth as the place where we needed to go. It was a winding path within the Olympic bubble to get there, but worth it. This just so happened to be the best seat in the house. I took some pictures, did some social media posts, texted my wife and then Facetimed with my daughter in college. It was one of those moments you can appreciate immediately as being pretty darn cool. We watched 12 of the best freestyle skiers in the world rocket down the snow slide to a jump where they twisted, turned and more often than not stuck the landing.

This was a gold medal event, so it was broadcast live back in the states and my colleague got a couple texts from people saying they could see us in the distance. This was the most rocking Olympic moment I’ve experienced in these games. The socially distanced crowd of a few hundred masked up Chinese spectators waived flags throughout the competition.

Spectators wave flags inside the Big Air Shougang Winter Olympic venue in Beijing, Feb. 9, 2022.
Steven Luke
Spectators wave flags inside the Big Air Shougang Winter Olympic venue in Beijing, Feb. 9, 2022.

I’ve read the fans have been instructed not to yell and cheer, so I guess the flags are a next best thing, although I swear the announcer was trying to get them to cheer over the public address system inside the venue. He spoke English and was actually very casual, entertaining and funny. There was also a newly minted celebrity in the crowd: the 2022 Winter Olympic panda mascot “Bing Dwen Dwen.” It reminded me of Mickey Mouse walking out on Disneyland Main Street. The mascot stuffed animals are the hottest souvenir in China right now and you can’t find them anymore inside the IBC Olympic store.

2022 Winter Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen entertains the crowd inside the Big Air Shougang venue in Beijing, Feb. 9, 2022.
Steven Luke
2022 Winter Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen entertains the crowd inside the Big Air Shougang venue in Beijing, Feb. 9, 2022.

The event ended around 1 o’clock and I worked my way down to the “mixed zone,” to do an interview with Team USA silver medalist Colby Stevenson. He was still glowing with positive energy emanating from a once in a lifetime performance on the world’s biggest stage.  My colleague had to get back to the International Broadcast Center (IBC) for his tech duties, but I really wanted to stay and do a live shot from the venue because it’s such a cool location. I still had two hours to kill before I went live on air for the 11pm newscast, so I went back into the media work area and kept tabs on the halfpipe snowboarding competition through my phone. The live shot was also a BIG FIRST for me. You don’t get many firsts after more than 20 years in a business, but this was one of them ... I did I the live shot all by myself. Shhhhh … don’t tell my bosses, I don’t want them getting any ideas 😊

NBC 7 anchor Steven Luke stops for a photo while loading up his camera and liveshot gear at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Feb. 9, 2022.
Steven Luke
NBC 7 anchor Steven Luke stops for a photo while loading up his camera and liveshot gear at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Feb. 9, 2022.

On the drive back to the IBC, I learned another USA snowboarder, Lindsey Jacobellis won Team USA’s first gold of these games in Snowboard Cross. She used to live in Encinitas and her win will go down as one of the great storylines of these games … or any games. I was able to catch up with her on a Zoom interview in between live shots for our morning show on the live platform in front of the Bird’s Nest. A memorable day full of twists, turns, firsts and storybook finishes. Not a bad day at the Olympics.

Lindsey Jacobellis speaks with NBC 7's Steven Luke over Zoom, after winning the Snowboard Cross, giving the U.S. its first gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Feb. 9, 2022.
Steven Luke
Lindsey Jacobellis speaks with NBC 7's Steven Luke over Zoom, after winning the Snowboard Cross, giving the U.S. its first gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, Feb. 9, 2022.
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