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Biathlon announcer adds excitement

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Think biathlon and cross-country races are boring? Think again. Chad Salmela, the announcer for Biathlon races at Soldier Hollow hopes you will change your mind.

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Biathlon Announcer

Several Olympic sports always draw large crowds, while others seem to attract only loyal fans.

But, one announcer for an often-overlooked sport thinks we might miss some of the best action if we don't explore a little more.

News Specialist Jed Boal has the story.

Think biathlon and cross-country races are boring?

Think again.

That's Chad Salmela, the announcer for Biathlon races at Soldier Hollow.

Sounds a lot like a NASCAR race or the NBA Playoffs.

Europeans have been nuts about Nordic racing since the 1800's. In 2002 most Americans have yet to watch a race.

But, Soldier Hollow could be the right place; And the 19th Winter Olympiad, the right time for Nordic racing to make a move.

Salmela was a national team biathlete, and just missed the Olympic team in 1998.

Then he manned the mic for the Junior National Cross-country championship a few years ago.

Chad Salmela/Olympic Biathlon Announcer: "I called a couple of really close head-to-head races, and I was just going through the roof."

That excitement attracted the attention of the right people.

John Aalberg/Soldier Hollow Operator and Designer: "I invited the best announcers from the world here several years ago to try to get them here. We've been lucky, and we have the best sport announcing team in the world here of any of the venues at the Olympics."

Jed Boal/Eyewitness News: "Salmela says the biathlon and cross-country ski races here at Soldier Hollow are an amazing opportunity to turn americans on to the excitement of those sports, and he wants to do his part."

Chad Salmela/Olympic Biathlon Announcer: "If you understand the sport, and you understand the drama, then it's exciting. Europeans can't understand how we can watch baseball and footbal, because they don't understand the sport."

In Europe, cross-country pursuit is the number one TV sporting event in Europe...bigger than ski jumping...bigger than downhill skiing...bigger even than figure skating.

Chad Salmela/Olympic Biathlon Announcer: "The American crowd is going to come here and not really understand the sport. If we can do a good job educating them, then bring it to them in the format their used to seeing, then we'll win over a lot of people to our sport.

"The event has great drama. I just try to bring that drama to the crowd."

Salmela's sister-in-law Kara Salmela races on the Olympic team. So who knows -- come race day there may be even more drama as the skiers charge the finish line.

Peter Graves from the Outdoor Life Network will announce the cross-country races at Soldier Hollow.