Curling is in the spotlight after Team GB’s medal success at the Winter Olympics and University of Huddersfield sports journalism lecturer David Easson was at the heart of the action.
David was out in Beijing reporting on the gripping curling contests for the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS).
It was the second successive Winter Olympics where David had been interviewing athletes in the mixed media zone, and he hopes his students at the university can follow his lead in covering diverse 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,” said David.
“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.”
David’s experiences in China have been very different to most of his previous Olympics, both away from the venues and inside them, with the curling taking place in the Ice Cube next to the famous Bird’s Nest stadium in the complex built for the 2008 summer games.
“It’s been a very different Olympics,” he said. “We were essentially in a closed loop where we travelled from hotel to venue by bus, and that’s it.”
David covered Team GB’s only medals of the Beijing games, a silver for the men’s team and the women’s gold on the final day of competition.
“Curling is growing and seems to be gaining traction beyond the USA, Canada, the Nordic countries and Scotland. 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.
“Our content has been used by Eurosport and NBC, but it has to be for everybody, 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, and we have all been stuck in this bubble as well.”
Olympic games always produce quirky and eccentric stories, and Beijing has been no different with David filming a piece about how the locals helped make Team GB’s Scottish athletes feel right at home.
“There were no Scottish highland pipers at the games, so they had six guys from Beijing who learned to play bagpipes. They were really good, and we made a feature about that, as well as one about the Australian mixed doubles who were coached by the Canadians.
“They then had to play Canada but caught Covid but were brought back from the airport to play Canada – and beat them!”