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Kevin Newman crossing Olympics off his bucket list

Global National to broadcast from Whistler Monday afternoon




On Monday, a corner of Skiers' Plaza will be temporarily transformed into a news studio, as the first of many media outlets begins its on-site coverage of the 2010 Olympics.

Kevin Newman and members of the Global National television crew are headed our way to do a special live broadcast on Monday, Nov. 23. They'll be set up by the Pan Pacific Hotel in Skiers' Plaza, for two special, half-hour mountain-side live broadcasts, one for Ontario and Quebec at 2:30 p.m. and another for British Columbia at 5:30 p.m.

"It's basically a pre-flight checklist for the Olympics and we're going to be taking, hopefully, John Furlong around and hopefully a few other people and just taking a look at the readiness of not only Whistler, but the Lower Mainland, as well, and just giving viewers who probably aren't quite tuned into it yet a look at what's ready and some of the training that's already going on," Newman explained.

They will be arriving this weekend to prepare for the broadcast.

Newman was an anchor and correspondent at ABC News in New York for several years and has hosted and reported for Nightline, World News Tonight and Good Morning America. He has also been a national correspondent for CBC and CTV News, and was co-host of CBC's Midday in the early '90s. But for the past eight years, he has been the anchor and executive editor of Global National. He anchors the B.C.-based national newscast from Ottawa, but most of the editorial and technical staff are based in Vancouver, which makes the Olympics a particularly exciting event for the entire team.

"I lived in B.C. for seven years, actually, and miss skiing Whistler tremendously," Newman said. "I'm hoping when I'm up there I'm going to be able to sneak in a couple runs."

In the span of his career, Newman has reported from as far away as Pakistan and Afghanistan, covering major national and international issues. But this is the first time he's ever had the opportunity to report on the Olympics and the experience is all the more special because Canada is hosting.

"In the bucket list of stories to cover, the Olympics were on my bucket list and I finally get to cross them off. I've done most things now, but I had never covered an Olympics, so that's what I'm really looking forward to. And the fact that it's in Canada makes it even better."

Newman has been watching the gradual buildup to 2010.

"It's amazing, because when you live in or visit Vancouver, you sort of see it happening incrementally, but because I've been away for a little bit the changes are much more profound; the disruption on the Sea to Sky highway and all the stuff that people have been living with," he said. "When you come back now, it's amazing the progress and how much has changed, and how much has changed so quickly in the last little bit."

He points out that the deadlines Olympic organizers face are comparable to the unforgiving deadline that he and his news team must meet on a daily basis.

"It's not like you can tell the world, 'hey, we're not ready. Give us another few weeks.' There's no wiggle room."

During the Games, the Global National team will be stationed primarily in Vancouver, around Concord Place, where many of the parties will be held. But he's not sure if his team is going to have another opportunity to come up to Whistler in February.

"We're going to see just how crazy the security is, how hard it's going to be to move around - it may be easy, we'll see!"

There are also technical challenges to broadcasting live, on location, like potential problems with transmission lines. Next week's broadcast will serve as a test run, allowing the team to examine technical and logistical issues.

"We're going to be operating with fibres and Internet protocols and trying some new things, so that's a bit of a dry run for us, just trying to get our bearings for when the big event happens."