ICQ Fall 1996

Bringing the Olympics to the World

Diane Keogh Patterson '74 takes a breather at the international broadcast cennter.

Ithacans working for Atlanta Olympic Broadcasting (AOB), the host broadcaster for the games, helped bring live and recorded television coverage to the international audience. With broadcast experience in four previous Olympics, Diane Keogh Patterson '74 served as director of international broadcast center production for AOB. One of her biggest challenges was coverage of the modern pentathlon, which included events in shooting, fencing, swimming, show jumping, and running - all, for the first time in Olympic history, held within a single day. Coverage required busing crews to three different venues - a nightmarish prospect, given the unreliable transportation system and the long delays caused by security measures. For Patterson and her staff, the extensive planning played to perfection. By the end of a very long day, "it couldn't have gone any better," she says.

Stuart Katz '83 was an associate producer of wrestling coverage for AOB. He was amused by the usefulness of the games as a golden opportunity for media professionals to network: "The business card whip-out competition is almost another Olympic event." (Intense as working the Olympics was, for Katz it was simply "a warm-up for the U.S. Transplant Games," for which he was executive producer of television coverage. Held this year in Salt Lake City August 22Ð25, the biennial Olympic-style event included about 1,200 athletes who had undergone organ transplants.)

Jeffrey Rothfus '75 was AOB's venue manager for "outside races": the marathon, walking, road cycling, and mountain biking, all of which took place outside Olympic Stadium. While most venue managers worked within a single location, Rothfus was "venue manager, city of Atlanta" - an area extending 35 miles. For Rothfus, the work was "a grueling ordeal," but a necessary one. "My job was to be perfect. If the show was a success, that's what they pay me for."

When Piep van Heuven says, "It was hot," she isn't referring only to the Georgia summer temperatures. Head coach of women's lacrosse at the College, van Heuven worked for AOB as a statistician in the field hockey venue. For four games a day, she sat in the press box with binoculars and a headset and relayed players' numbers so that the correct names could be displayed in close-ups. "From the ground level, putting on a large sporting event like that is mass chaos; everyone has a job, and a commitment to doing it, but often little experience," she says. Despite the chaos, van Heuven had time to enjoy the devotion of the fans, something she doesn't expect to see again, "at least for field hockey, in my lifetime."

David Wohlhueter '60 poses with softball gold medalists Dot Richardson and Sheila Cornell.

As a sports media liaison for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) at the softball venue, David Wohlhueter '60 helped set up and run the press box. With women's softball in its first year as an Olympic sport and the level of competition "out of this world," it was an especially exciting assignment. Wohlhueter, who is sports information director at Cornell University, found watching the Australians beat the U.S. team "devastating" -- until "the [U.S.] ladies came back and won it all."

After each event, Wohlhueter scored the game and typed his story into the computer for release -- a computer with a habit of randomly timed glitches. As he finished his story for the gold medal game, he discovered -- to his disgust -- that the computer had eaten it; he had to rewrite from the top.

For Wohlhueter a passage in his notes epitomizes the long and short of a day in the press box: "The weather is clear and beautiful. It is now 3:00 a.m., and we're still here."

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Andrejs Ozolins, January 24, 1997