Sochi 2014

NBCUniversal celebrates 100-day countdown to Sochi Olympics with increased promotion (videos)

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NBC Olympics and the networks for NBCUniversal will increase Sochi Olympic programming to coincide with the 100-day countdown to the Winter Games on Oct. 29.

A new phase of multi-platform marketing will be highlighted by a 20-channel promotional Roadblock in the 8 p.m. ET/PT hour on Oct. 29. In addition, NBC Sports Group and the networks of NBCU will participate at the kickoff of the USOC’s Road to Sochi Tour in New York City’s Times Square earlier in the day.

“The 100-day mark is the moment when our considerable Olympic campaign kicks into another gear,” said John Miller, CMO, NBC Sports Group. “For Sochi, we will use the full force of America’s largest media company to market the biggest Winter Olympics ever, being hosted by the biggest country in the world. As a Symphony priority, it’s invaluable to have so many parts of the company — 20 channels, 65 websites and the full strength of Comcast — playing together with singular focus to make our campaign come to life and make the Sochi Olympics a massive television event.”

Coverage of the Olympic Winter Games will begin one night before the Opening Ceremony with the start of competition in Sochi — men’s and women’s snowboard slopestyle, women’s moguls and team figure skating.

Here are more highlights of NBCUniversal’s promotional plans from Oct. 29 leading up to the Olympics:

  • The NBC Peacock “bug” with the Olympic rings will appear on NBC and other NBCU networks, including NBCSN, with more frequency.
  • Locally, NBCUniversal will work with its family of over 230 local broadcast affiliates to air locally-focused spots leading up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, as well as air local news coverage and specific promos about local Olympic athletes and events in their regions.
  • NBCUniversal will air spots that aim to help demonstrate the breadth of digital streaming coverage for the upcoming Sochi Games, and how customers of MVPDs and other distributors of NBCUniversal’s Olympic networks can access that content both in and out of the home on multiple platforms.
  • Comcast, NBCUniversal’s parent company, will use its wide breadth of digital and cable access to reach its customers in over 22 million homes to distribute Olympic-related promotional materials, as well as direct mailings, video guides and video-on demand features all related to NBC’s coverage of the Games.
  • In the final three and a half weeks leading up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, NBCUniversal will prioritize its Olympic promotional ads across its 18 cable channels. NBCUniversal will air spots to push audiences to the first primetime broadcast on Feb. 6 and the Opening Ceremony on Feb. 7.
  • Leading up to the Games, Olympic promotion will be featured in 14 different out-of-home networks across 18 different outlets, increasing viewer reach by 50% versus the out-of-market delivery for the 2012 London Summer Games. Shoppers and commuters will begin seeing NBC Olympic promotional spots via out-of-home marketing, which will be featured in national retail stores, including Costco and Walmart, in-dining networks, New York City taxi cabs, and PATH trains.

The push toward 100 days out began last weekend with the debut of four Olympic spots narrated by “Revolution” and “Breaking Bad” star Giancarlo Esposito.

“I’m a longtime athlete and have never been a professional and never played sports in school,” Esposito said. “So when I was a young boy the highlight of my life was to watch the summer Olympics, and you had to wait those four years … and then to see the winter Olympics, it was one of the biggest highlights of my life because I always wanted to be able to compete that way.”

You can view the four spots below:


“What I love about the Olympics is that they’re people who are the common man and woman, everyday people who have the opportunity and the chance to prove to themselves that there is something inside them, a dream that can be fulfilled, and to me the Olympics for America is everything,” Esposito said. “I’m a big runner, a big cyclist and in the things that I do, I hear the Olympics music year round in my head … when I’m running in the park around Ladybird Lake here in Austin, Texas. ”


“I became a skier from watching television and watching skiers, and Lindsey Vonn has become one of my favorites as has been Bode Miller,” Esposito said. “Some of what Bode Miller is — a skier who I can relate to because he was never perfect — he was unorthodox and he could hit a gate and would be on … go from one leg to the other. There was never any opportunity for him to win that race a few years ago (2010 Olympics super combined), but the physical ability that he had not to crash and to get down that course, to me was everything, so even in his failure I was inspired.”

The Same

“To meet guys like Franz Klammer, the winningest skier in all of history, who you just don’t know how he could get his body to move that way and a guy who is just so lovely,” Esposito said.


“I just can’t wait to watch and be inspired again,” Esposito said.

U.S. Olympic Trials broadcast schedule

Bobsled Olympic medalist Steve Langton retires

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 03:  (BROADCAST-OUT)  Steve Langton of the United States Bobsled team poses for a portrait ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on February 3, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Steve Langton, who was described by driver Steven Holcomb as the “best push athlete in the world,” announced his retirement today.

A collegiate sprinter and jumper at Northeastern University, Langton decided to try bobsledding after watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. He filled out an online athlete resume, and, by the 2010 Games, he was an Olympian.

At the Sochi 2014 Games, Langton teamed with Holcomb to win a bronze medal in the two-man race. It was the first Olympic medal in the event by American sled since 1952. He claimed another bronze medal as a member of Holcomb’s four-man “Night Train.”

“In Sochi I competed on the world’s biggest stage, I won two medals for my country and I did so along not only the best teammates but best friends anyone could ever ask for,” Langton told USA Bobsled.

Langton, who has a 62-inch standing box jump and can squat more than 500 pounds, was described by Men’s Health as “the most powerful winter Olympian” in the lead-up to 2014 Games.

“[Langton’s] work ethic and discipline rubbed off on the other athletes and made everyone better,” said USA Bobsled & Skeleton Chief Executive Officer Darrin Steele. “I have no doubt that he’ll find success in the next chapter of his life as well.”

Langton appeared on “The Amazing Race” in 2015 with his girlfriend, Aly Dudek, an Olympic short track speedskater.

None of the push athletes on the current U.S. roster have Olympic experience. Holcomb will compete in the World Cup opener this Saturday with Sam McGuffie, a former University of Michigan football player. The race will be McGuffie’s World Cup debut.


Dan Jansen explains recent flurry of world records

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Dan Jansen has significant experience rewriting the speed skating world record book.

The 1994 Olympic 1000m champion broke the 500m world record in 1992, and then lowered his mark another four times. He also set world records in the 1000m and sprint combination.

Yet even Jansen is shocked by the number of edits to the record book over the last two weeks.

“I haven’t seen anything like it,” Jansen said. “Not this many.”

Four world records were broken this past weekend at the World Cup in Kearns, Utah. The weekend before, world records in three Olympic events fell at the season-opening World Cup in Calgary.

There is no surprise about the locations of the record-breaking performances.

The Utah Olympic Oval claims to have the “fastest ice on earth,” and for good reason. The venue is located 4,675 feet above sea level. At such a high altitude, the air is less dense, meaning speed skaters experience less air resistance and are therefore able to achieve faster speeds.

It is the same reason baseball players hit more home runs at the Colorado Rockies’ stadium, Coors Field, and football kickers are able to make longer field goals when they travel to play the Denver Broncos.

The Calgary Olympic Oval is also at a high altitude, although not as high as at the venue in Kearns. All of the current Olympic event world records have been set in either Utah or Calgary.

What is surprising, however, is the large number of world records broken during a two-week stretch.

Brittany Bowe started the revision of the record book by breaking her own women’s 1000m world record on Nov. 14 in Calgary. Just three minutes later, her U.S. Olympic teammate, Heather Richardson, claimed the world record for herself. Then, this past Sunday in Utah, Bowe broke the world record once again. NBCSN will televise the coverage from Utah this Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET, with Jansen providing the commentary.

Richardson also stole a world record from Bowe in the women’s 1500m. Bowe broke the world record on Nov. 15, only to have Richardson lower the time on Nov. 21.

“It’s pretty easy to tell that we bring out the best in each other,” Bowe said to U.S. Speedskating on Sunday. “When we’re racing together something special happens almost every time.”

In the men’s competition, Russia’s Pavel Kulizhnikov broke the 500m world record  on Nov. 15, and lowered it again on Nov. 20. Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen shattered the men’s 10,000m world record, taking 5.39 seconds off Sven Kramer’s mark from 2007.

Jansen attributes the women’s world records to the continued development of Bowe and Richardson. Both are converted inline skaters who have become more confident racing on the ice.

Bowe started inline skating when she was eight years old. After graduating from high school, she was offered the opportunity to move to Utah to transition to speed skating for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. But she decided hang up her inline skates to focus on playing collegiate basketball at Florida Atlantic University.

She only started speed skating after being inspired by watching Richardson compete at the 2010 Games.

“Brittany learns more almost daily,” Jansen said. “She is still going to get better.”

Richardson quickly adjusted to racing on the ice, despite being described as “Bambi on ice” when she first started speed skating in 2007. She married Dutch distance skater Jorrit Bergsma in 2015 and moved to the Netherlands. Richardson’s endurance has improved since she started training with her husband, the 2014 Olympic 10,000m champion.

“Those two ladies are dominant right now,” Jansen said about Bowe and Richardson. “It is hard to see anybody else closing the gap they have in the middle distances.”

Jansen, the first speed skater to break 36 seconds in the 500m, seemed surprised that it took so long for the men’s 500m and 10,000m world records to fall. Canada’s Jeremy Wotherspoon held the men’s 500m world record since Nov. of 2007. Kramer’s 10,000m time, which was recorded in Feb. of 2007, was the longest-standing Olympic event world record.

“It’s about time,” Jansen said. “These guys are flying right now.”

No more world records are expected to be broken this season, as the rest of the competition venues are located closer to sea level. Similarly, no world records are expected to be broken at the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics.

“It’s a little bit of a bummer because you would like to see world records at the Olympics, but our sport is not conducive to that,” Jansen said. “Unless you have the Olympics up high.”

Jansen believes U.S. Speedskating will continue to experience positive momentum.

At Sochi 2014, losing became contagious, and the U.S. contingent departed Russia with zero Olympic medals. Jansen now expects the recent success to reverberate throughout the entire team.

“It’s an exciting time for U.S. Speedskating,” Jansen said. “They are making statements, and I don’t think they are finished.”