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Live from Salt Lake, it's Sandpoint's Morgan Potts!

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Live from Salt Lake, it's Sandpoint's Morgan Potts!

Potts reports from the Winter 2002 Olympics

February 27, 2002

When Morgan Potts graduated from Sandpoint High School last year and headed off for Wesminster University in Salt Lake City, little did she know that she would soon be partaking in one of the greatest shows on earth - The Winter 2002 Olympics. A part-time job for MSNBC News has put Potts on the front line. People anxiously awaited her daily reports, which were read aloud in Marianne Love's SHS  English class and hand-delivered to her grandmother's neighbors in Palm Springs hot off the Internet. Here are the excerpts.

Feb. 4- Day one of my Olympics job is now pushing 13 hours. Mostly, I have been sitting around in the "headquarters" waiting for assignments. When I got assigned to pick up an Associated Press reporter the battery in the Blazer I was assigned to just happened to be dead. I've been around Tom Brokaw's office all day but have yet to see him and am not sure I will. I am assigned to this Blazer and have it full time as long as I'm working. This is really a great time! I've already been down a one way street the wrong way, but hey, the pressure was on and at least the guy laughed:).

Feb. 6- I am now assigned to Lester, an MSNBC anchor out of NY, his assistant Kim, and their runner, Carter. The Blazer situation is no longer working out...when Carter and I came to pick up Lester and Kim yesterday, it wouldn't shift out of park!! Eventually they towed it, and now I am assigned to a navy blue Tahoe...fully loaded:). The best part is that I have this car 24/7 until I'm done working! Traffic in town is like no other...we're talking New York level here....40 minutes to go three blocks or so. Today I have already been up to Park City and will soon be going back. Later in the day I need to drive Lester and Kim to an interview with Picabo Street and another with a luge racer. This morning I had four passengers and every one of them was on a cell phone at the same time!! I'm hearing all sorts of stuff about Air Force One, when the President's coming/leaving, this athlete, that athlete...it's pretty fun to be right in the middle of all this. Besides all that, I watched Lester's live broadcast with the film crew and everything.

Feb 7-Another hard day at work...we went to Midway this morning to film the torch being run through. It was really exciting, I didn't think it'd be that great but it was. One lady was so excited she set down her baby carrier (equipped with a baby) and ran down the block to get a good picture! So I took it upon myself to watch the kid, since she put him down right in the middle of the sidewalk. I even got to hold the torch...it's three and a half pounds but feels like much more because it's so top heavy.

Feb 8- This morning I met Emily Cook, an aerial skier who busted both her feet training for the World Cup. She was such a nice girl! So now I have officially met an athlete, even if she's not competing this time. Last night when the torch was run through Salt Lake there was total chaos. It was nearly impossible to drive anywhere because so many roads were closed off. I got into a special media-only place to see everything first hand...pretty cool. Air Force One just arrived today and the Opening Ceremonies will commence at 6:00 tonight. The security around this city is absolutely crazy! It takes about an hour to get into the International Broadcast Center, which is basically the headquarters of everything. In an interview Lester did the other night with Picabo Street, she said that her metal bra clip and her knees set off the alarms!

Feb 11- Tristan Gale is great! She does skeleton racing. It was 50 degrees and so bright up on the mountain that she had to borrow my sunglasses during her interview. So now I can say that an Olympic skeleton racer used my glasses:). In return for the use of my glasses she gave me one of her pins to trade, which is pretty neat. She's really cool...we talked for quite some time in between her interviews.

Feb. 12-John Zimmerman and Kyoko Ina are here in the studio right now! They're the U.S. pair skaters that did really well but scored fifth. I got a picture with John...I haven't had the chance with Kyoko though. This is so much fun!!!

I forgot to mention that Jimmy Shea is also here...he's a third generation Olympian and does skeleton racing. He was quite the popular guy in the studio today, people were lining up to get pictures with him or get him to sign things. One of the editors wants me to drive him up to the Athlete's Village now. Besides the skaters and Jimmy, the Utah governor was also here. He's not as exciting as the athletes though...esp. John Zimmerman:)

Feb. 14- At about 3:15 I need to go meet up with Picabo Street and her publicist downtown and basically follow them around before I drive them to the shoot with Lester. I'm pretty excited for that, except I hear that Picabo is not the biggest sweetheart in the world and the booker told me that she will probably be rude to me but not to take it personally. But hey, Picabo Street will be in my car!! If there's ever a time to not go down one way streets the wrong way it'll be today:)! (Later) Well, guess who I just hung out with for two hours? John Zimmerman, from the U.S. pair skaters! He had another interview with Lester today, and so we met up at Starbuck's, had some breakfast, went to McDonald's and had some more breakfast, and then walked over to the interview site. He's really cool...we talked about majors and jobs and all that and it turns out he worked at some vet's offices too! They have a place set up where you can sit on a luge sled and go around a short turn set up and another place where you can shoot a hockey puck. They also have an area where you grab a partner and push a bobsled as far as they need to in competition...this is all timed and then you can win little medals! It's really cool. Picabo Street didn't actually ride in my car (they followed in their car) but I did meet her and get my picture with her and she's very nice! The Canadian pair skaters were here earlier and they are quite the popular couple! Crowds were literally following them around! Also, Brian Williams, the other MSNBC anchor, is working in our studio. I have yet to meet him, but I hear he's really nice.

Feb. 15- Not much is going on lately because Lester is broadcasting from the Gateway and the Coca-Cola park. This morning his show went for almost two hours to cover the conference about the skating scandal. I agree that the Canadians deserved the medal, but I don't know how I feel about them awarding two pairs of gold medals. John Zimmerman thinks that in a way it destroys the integrity of the Olympics. Partially I agree, but on the other hand, it would be unfair to the Russians to just take the gold away because they are not the ones that did anything wrong. I've heard they just walk around with their heads down and are very upset to be involved in this situation. In an interview yesterday, Picabo Street said that this situation might actually prove to be good for the Canadians...all this mess has endeared them to the public, which means they can sell more products and market for more companies...which means more money. I think that's an interesting point of view. They certainly are a hot commodity right now...they were in the studio yesterday and during the maybe 20 minutes they were in The Igloo, seven or eight cameramen piled in and waited for them to come out!

This morning I picked up Elizabeth Manley, a figure skater who won a silver medal in the 1988 Olympics. We're having all sorts of skaters come in to give their views on the scandal.

Feb. 16- Yesterday was a fairly eventful day. I took three naps and then had to pick up Todd Eldridge, a figure skater. We were trying to walk back to the studio for a live interview but we were stopped at least ten times on the way by people who wanted autographs and pictures with him. After him, I had to pick up Michael Weiss, another skater who performed a quad triple double the other night. At about 8, I had to attend a Russian press conference about the skating scandal. We pulled up to the gate of the Russian house, and when we told the guard we were with NBC, he freaked out!! He started yelling all sorts of things in Russian, and we think he was saying that NBC was already in there. Too bad that was the camera and sound crew, and we had the reporter!! Then another car pulled up next to us with a big guy in a suit sitting in the passenger seat. He rolled down the window and asked in a thick Russian accent, "What is the problem?" We explained that we were with NBC and were trying to get in but the guard wouldn't let us, thinking he would help out. He replied with, "Here I am trying to get in my house and you are blocking my way." Just by looking at him you could tell he was not a guy to mess with!! So we moved and in the meantime the booker called the owner of the house and she said to come on in. So the next time the gate opened, we went through and two Russian guards freaked out and started screaming at us! By now we were scared. We got into the house just fine for this little press conference, and it turns out the man that was mad at us is the head of the Russian Olympic Committee or something like that. All I can say is that the Russians were very intimidating...all very big and not very happy to see so much media there. The Russian pair skaters showed up and were practically mobbed by reporters and cameras. In total, we were there for about three hours...originally it was supposed to be a 15 minute press conference and the Canadian pair skaters and Russian pair skaters were supposed to show up together. The Canadians never ended up showing, so we booked it out of there. It's scary to be yelled at in a language you don't understand! Oh, and upon talking to the owner of the house, we found out that all the guards are actually KGB!!!! So, that's my night in a nutshell. Many people feel bad for the Russian pair skaters, but yesterday when they were in the studio they were so rude! Yelena walked by Kim, our producer, and Kim gave a word of congratulations. Yelena shot her a look and then just kept walking!

Feb 17- I met Joey Cheek today, the guy that won a bronze medal in speed skating...1000m I think. He's a very, very nice guy and pretty cute too:)! Later in the afternoon we have two luge medalists coming in for interviews.

Feb 18- Nothing has really happened today. We haven't had any guests and our next shows are at 6:00 and 9:00. Originally we weren't going to have any guests on the show but 20 minutes ago that changed so now the bookers are going crazy. They want figure skaters on, probably to talk about how they're changing the scoring system. I think we're bordering overkill here with all the skating stuff.

Feb 19- After staying out until two in the morning, I woke up at 8:45 to drive up to Park City. We picked up Jim Craig, the goalie on the U.S. hockey team that won the gold in 1980 (you know, the miracle on ice) and his lawyer. These guys were really a hoot! They were so much fun and have such great senses of humor! There's a platform set up on Main Street in Park City, which is closed to all traffic, where they do all the camera shoots because it shows the main strip and some mountains in the background. They've been doing shots from there on the Tonight Show lately.

Feb. 20- I was on the news today! It's kind of a funny story: we were shooting out of the platform in Park City and it was snowing like crazy. Lester had drips running down his forehead so in between shoots during the breaks I would hold an umbrella over his head while he read over the scripts. His last story was on the skeleton and he said something about how this kind of weather doesn't bug them. He said, "And it's not bugging me either...come over here Mo!" and called me over to the camera to hold the umbrella over him! He said something to the likes of "This is what happens during the break" and had me wave. Ten minutes later my mom called to tell me one of her clients saw! So that was fun. Also, we did an interview with Joe Pack, the guy that won silver yesterday in men's aerials. Carmen got a picture of him and I.

Feb 23- Well, today is my last day:(. I think I might have experienced the worst stress in my life yesterday! A ton of people are in town to see N'SYNC tonight. It took 45 minutes to travel a typical 10 min. route. The guest was booked by a booker in New Jersey. He called three times throughout the day to make sure I remembered, four times on the way to get her, and another three on the way back! Talk about pressure! That definitely brought out my defensive driving skills! By the time I got upstairs after parking the car, she was set up in the studio and everything was going smoothly. Thankfully, after that ordeal I was done and could go home. Today is the end of this wonderful experience, so I am just going to work for a few hours and then head home (Idaho) for the rest of the week. I'm so bummed I have to turn in my Tahoe:(! We keep wondering how bored we're going to be after the Olympics are over...there'll be less than half as much stuff to do! Well, I hope you all enjoyed these little updates on my experience...I sure enjoyed writing them!


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