Q+A: Russ Thaler
by Michael Sones | @IFmsones
This is Part Two of a three-part series which focuses on the Sochi Olympic Games.
Russ Thaler is the host of NBC SportsTalk on NBC Sports Network. He has covered everything from the Washington Capitals to the Super Bowl to boxing and figure skating at the Olympics.
I recently spoke with Russ about his overall experience, specific highlights from the Games, and aspirations to cover future Olympics.
First off, tell me about the overall experience.
Russ Thaler: This was my second Olympics; I was the boxing reporter at the 2012 London Games. That year I was on site in the boxing venue everyday. This time around it was different in the sense that I was in Connecticut rather than in Sochi. It was also different hosting a show rather than being a sideline reporter. Both experiences were interesting because I had never previously covered either sport. But in both instances NBC surrounded me with people who live and breathe the sport.
Which individual events or stories did you cover?
Thaler: I hosted a show called Olympic Ice, a daily figure skating show. It was all about figure skating. I was paired up with Sarah Hughes, who won the gold in Salt Lake City in 2002. That was neat because not many people get to sit next to a gold medalist and watch their sport unfold in front of you. So I got some serious insight on the ins and outs of the performances, as well as the back stories that you might not even hear about during the primetime broadcast: the different athletes and how they trained; what costuming involves; what goes into music selection. Sarah’s sister Emily, who’s also a former Olympian, was working for the IOC and sort of filling Sarah in on what was going on behind the scenes, because Emily was hanging out with the U.S. team. We would watch the entire event in real time and then try to translate all of that into the show. We also had social media expert Michael Buckley who would go through with us what was trending as far as figure skating was concerned. We had Nicole Miller, the designer, come on the show to talk about costumes. Current Olympians came on as well- we did some Skype interviews once they were out of competition.
The 2016 Brazil games are right around the corner…
Thaler: Oh. I desperately want to go to Brazil and work the Olympics down there. I would absolutely love to cover the 2016 Games.
Stay tuned for Part Three…