“Feherty” host David Feherty, “Morning Drive” co-host Damon Hack and PGA play-by-play host Rich Lerner are among 30 Golf Channel employees — on camera and behind the scenes — working NBC Sports’ coverage of the Olympics.
Golf Channel is part of the NBC Sports Group. Four employees are based at NBC Sports headquarters in Stamford, Conn., but 26 are in South Korea.
Feherty called the assignment “really cool,” and he didn’t mean the frigid temperatures. “I covered the Rio [de Janeiro] Games the year before last, and it was an amazing experience,” he said. “As far as I know I can go to work just the way I normally do when I work with Golf Channel. I haven’t gotten fired yet, and I hope it stays that way.”
Hack, who is covering the biathlon event that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting, said he’s “definitely a little bit” out of his comfort zone. “But my main feeling is of excitement,” he said. “This is a huge sport in Europe but still a relative unknown in the States.”
Golf Channel personalities Heather Cox, Terry Gannon, Dan Hicks, Jimmy Roberts and Steve Sands are contributing to the mammoth coverage, which encompasses more than 2,400 hours across NBCUniversal platforms. Feherty’s work can be seen on NBC, NBCSN and the Olympic Channel.
Lerner’s work can be seen on various platforms including “The Olympic Zone” at 7:30 p.m. on NBC affiliate WESH-Channel 2. He, Sands and Hack live in Central Florida.
“It’s about 80 degrees colder than the location of the year’s first assignment in Maui,” Lerner said. “The scope of the Games is unmatched in sports. But ultimately, once I have my assignment, the mechanics are no different than they are in golf. Tell a good story.”
Sands was struck by the excitement in South Korea, which hosted the Summer Olympics in 1988. “There is a ton of energy here in South Korea having the Olympics back in this country for the first time in 30 years,” he said. “This just feels huge with the combination of sports and geopolitics coming together.”
Yet Sands says attention in the host country is mostly focused on the Games and not on neighboring North Korea. “You don’t hear a lot about the North,” he said. “Pretty much everywhere you look or listen, it’s all about the Olympics.”
The Olympics will dominate the NBC schedule through Feb. 25, when the Closing Ceremony is staged.
Golf Channel executive producer Molly Solomon, who lives in Orlando, has worked 11 Olympics. “It’s a challenging and fun task,” she said. “It also brings our entire company together every two years, united to provide corporate support of the Games.”
The Olympic assignments give the Golf Channel personalities the chance to stretch their skills, Solomon added. “The ability to work with different producers and talent makes you take inventory and think about how you do your ‘day job’ at Golf Channel,” she said. “As a company we will be better because these individuals tried something different.”
Hack will cover 11 biathlon events over 10 days, and he acknowledged that he didn’t know much about the sport initially.
“Hopefully I can help bring the American viewer along by interviewing the competitors about their respective journeys to this moment and chronicling their emotions in winning and losing in this old Nordic event that taxes them physically and mentally,” Hack said.
To prepare, Hack watched NBC’s Olympic biathlon coverage from 2014 in Sochi, Russia, as well as more recent footage from world championships. He has been studying many Norwegian pronunciations as well.
“Norway is a dominant nation in biathlon,” he said. “It has been an education.”
Pyeongchang is Sands’ third Olympics after the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro and the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. He sees no major challenges this time around.
“It’s really cold,” Sands said. “So some of the outdoor venues might have weather delays because of low temperatures and/or high wind. It would certainly help if we spoke Korean, but everyone we’ve met since we arrived understands that isn’t the case.”
Lerner has profiled American flag bearer Erin Hamlin and looked at South Koreans’ grit and determination. “Of course, I’ll report on South Korea’s love affair with golf,” he added. “We visited a local club on a day when it was five below zero, and there were still 20 players.”
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