Spanish skier gets both sides of the Olympic experience
Ovidio Garcia / Photo by Will Bettmann
Ovidio Garcia has been involved with the Olympics since 1992 when he was a member of the Spanish ski team. He also competed in 1994, but for the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics Garcia was on the other side of the camera. He was one of the key venue managers for International Sports Broadcasting Co., the host broadcaster for the games.
As a venue manager, Garcia was in charge of coordinating the dizzying amount of planning involved in broadcasting a major sporting event, including setting up and the various camera positions,cabling, production trucks, personnel, and other details too numerous to list.
Garcia worked at Park City, Deer Valley, and the Utah Olympic Park during the Winter Olympics, and he worked at Snow Basin for the Paralympics. As the last day of competition at the Paralympics wound to a close on Saturday, Garcia reminisced about the three years of work he did to prepare for the games.
"This is probably the most special project I've ever been involved in," Garcia said. "It's like your little baby. We talked about it for three years, and then to finally see something like the downhill on TV when I saw it live was really rewarding."
Garcia and his crew at Snow Basin were clearly relieved that their work was almost over.
"During the Games, my phone would start ringing at 4:30 a.m. and stop around midnight," Garcia said. "I didn't even have time to eat most days. I've been working for two-and-a-half months straight and sleeping three to four hours a night."
He added that the Paralympics were "half the work" that the Winter Games were, but added that the athletes at the Paralympics were inspiring to watch. Discussing various successes and failures, Garcia said the super slow-mo camera, and also a cable camera which followed racers for about 100 yards down the course both turned out really well. In the failure category, Garcia said he had two cameras which never worked for the entire Games, including one which was set up to watch racers as they came out of the starting gate on the downhill. He said he didn't know why both cameras failed.
Garcia said he had mixed feelings about his own Olympic experience because he didn't compete as well as he had hoped to.
"I was just happy to make it in '92 because I had a really bad knee injury in '91, but in '94 I was disappointed."
Garcia raced in the Slalom in '92, and the Combined Slalom in '94, but did not finish in either.
In the future, Garcia said he may continue to work with International Sports Broadcasting on the Olympics, or he may look to work more closely with the sport of skiing, perhaps with the International Olympic Committee.
As his crew grilled hamburgers and drank beer outside the trailer where they spent the majority of the last two months, Garcia said he wouldn't soon forget the 2002 Games.
"In January and February, I had the greatest time of my life. There was not a dull second," he said.