More Notes from PyeongChang
Wylie bringing coverage on Westwood One
Paul Wylie, the 1992 Olympic silver medalist, has been busy behind the scenes in Gangneung, South Korea, bringing the figure skating competition to millions on Westwood One radio.
The show offers a variety of coverage, including live programming and commentary on every event. Westwood One is a nationally syndicated sports, news and entertainment broadcast network that provides content to 245 million listeners each week across a network of 8,000 affiliated radio stations.
This is Wylie’s third Olympics with Westwood One and fourth overall. He provided the only live call of the competition involving Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan at the Lillehammer, Norway, Olympics in 1994 on CBS Radio.
“I love it,” Wylie said. “You are focusing on telling the story of the athlete and what they are doing. You are painting the picture of where are they on the ice, what are they wearing, what are the shapes that they are making, what are their scores, how does the audience react to them, what do you think the judges are going to do. There are so many questions that you are trying to answer and that suits me fine.”
Wylie is a one-man operation, working as the producer, audio tech, cameraman and on-air talent. He’s learned to produce teases, previews and wraps, and can write 20 seconds of copy in just a minute or two.
“I think that’s a real skill to learn,” he said. “I’m not a professional by any means; I do this every four years.”
Yamaguchi to Chen: ‘Soak up the experience’
Before Karen Chen went to the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland, she and Kristi Yamaguchi met up at the Coffee Bean café in Fremont, California, ordered up matcha green tea lattes and talked about the pressure Chen faced in Helsinki, trying to help the U.S. secure three ladies spots for the PyeongChang Olympics.
Yamaguchi, the 1992 Olympic champion and two-time World champion, advised Chen to “skate dumb.”
“It’s a term skaters in my generation used sometimes,” Yamaguchi said. “I told her to rely on her training and repetitions, and just let herself go out there and skate.”
It worked: Chen placed fourth; with Ashley Wagner’s seventh place finish, the spots were secured.
Chen and Yamaguchi repeated the meeting before the Olympics, right down to the matcha green lattes, which Chen called “amazing.”
“We just talked and she shared her experiences and all the fun times she had at the Olympics,” Chen said. “She got me excited to be here and to really soak up the experience of my first time at the Olympics. I just want to make sure I make some amazing memories. I’m forever grateful to Kristi; she is one of a kind, so amazing and such a wonderful person. I’m so, so thankful to her.”
Yamaguchi has known Chen since she was 12. Her daughters, Keara and Emma, skated at the same rink as Chen.
“I remember the first time I met Kristi I was a nervous wreck, I just wanted her to sign my boot, and it was a struggle to work up the courage just to ask her to do that,” Chen said. “I’m thankful to say our relationship has definitely prospered and progressed.”
Chen has taken Yamaguchi’s advice to heart. The sometimes shy skater has forced herself out of her shell, especially during the Games’ opening ceremonies.
“I kept going up and meeting strangers and asking for pins and stuff,” Chen said. “At least the first time, it was hard, and once I got over that, it became more natural.”
Yamaguchi also had some competitive advice.
“She said anything is possible,” Chen recalled. “It’s the Olympics, its competition, its unpredictable. Never lose hope and stay as positive as you can. A medal is definitely possible.”
Athletes rave about food, cook in Chuncheon
The U.S. team spent much of its time at the Olympics practicing a couple of hours away in Chuncheon, South Korea.
To make sure the athletes were well taken care of and received delicious and nutritious meals, U.S. Figure Skating brought in Kyungsook Hwang and her friend from New Jersey to cook Korean food for the athletes. Hwang is the mother of U.S. Figure Skating’s communications coordinator Sora Hwang.
The athletes raved about the food and the kind spirit of the cook.
“I looked forward to going for our meals, because they were delicious and she gave me a reassuring hug every time I saw her,” Mirai Nagasu said. “She made our job in Chuncheon easy because she coordinated our meals and translated for us.”
“Sora’s mom was incredible,” Karen Chen said. “Since I love Korean food, I absolutely adored the Korean dishes she cooked. She was so sweet and generous to all of us.”
All about the medals
Heading into the ladies free skate, the United States has won a bronze medal in the Team Event and a bronze medal in ice dance.
A bronze medal is made of copper and weighs 493 grams (17.3 ounces). A gold medal is made of silver with a purity of 99.9 percent, with 6 grams of gold. The silver is virtually the same as the gold medal, without the gold plating. They each weigh around 580 grams (21 ounces).
Before the skaters receive their official medals, they receive stuffed animals of the Olympic mascot, Soohorang. These Soohorang feature a gold, silver or bronze hat to coincide with the athlete’s placement.