Friday, Feb. 18, 2022:
❤ I don’t much about figure skating, but I do know the women’s free skate is a pretty big deal at the Winter Olympics. I’ll be honest, I tend to lose count after an Olympian spins more than two times in the air. Is it a triple? A quad? I’m not always sure, but I was pretty excited to learn I’d been approved for an observer seat at the figure skating finals. I ordered a car and the driver dropped me off on the backside of the arena. I got out thinking it was one way to the entrance only to find out all those lights in the distance were lining a river. Wrong direction. As a marquee event, I needed a special sticker to get inside and I was directed to a section which was shockingly empty. There were a few people around me, but way more open seats than you’d expect. I suppose the seats filled up a little more towards the end of the competition when the medal favorites skated, but I actually don’t know because I left early. I know … it’s like leaving a concert after the opening act. I was bummed not to see a single USA or Russian skater, but I had to get back for morning live shots and the car ride took about 35 minutes.
I had my last round of live shots in front of the bird’s nest on the “wind tunnel of death” platform (which was just fine with me), but I was a bit nostalgic walking away knowing I’d never be here again. Closing ceremony rehearsals were happening in the big stadium with giant beams of light radiating up towards the sky and it made for a nice moment. The rest of my live shots will be closer to the International Broadcast Center (IBC) as closing ceremony rehearsals shut down the bus routes to and from the platform.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
I knew I’d be interviewing all three of Team USA’s female figure skaters in the morning, so I spent some time at night thinking about the best questions to ask. The best questions have probably already been asked of them several times before (this isn’t brain surgery getting sound bites from athletes), but I did want to ask some questions in a way to elicit thoughtful responses.
My first reaction to seeing the skaters in the studio was how young they looked in person as compared to TV, especially Alysa Liu who is just 16 years old. We talked about a range of topics, but I really wanted to hear from them about how they’re unpacking all the emotion of these games given the controversy, drama, and pressure. Much of the drama of course surrounds Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva who went from breaking Olympic rules to breaking Olympic hearts with her free skate collapse. She’s just 15 years old and I don’t know about you, but it was tough to watch.
I asked the USA skaters what they’d say to her. All of them said they’d want to just give her a hug.
NBC 7's Steven Luke is in Beijing, China to bring us the latest updates from the 2022 Winter Olympics. Click here to follow his journey, day-by-day