The Spokane Arena was crawling this week with construction crews and television techs who got their first look at the venue for the upcoming Team Challenge Cup.
Garco Construction crews over two days built a plywood structure that will house all three teams of skaters who will compete in the competition on April 22-24.
Several crews from Nippon TV from Japan were on hand to talk about video-monitor placement, backup generators and where to unload gear, said Rob “Dusty” Dustin, the executive producer for Red Brick Entertainment from Nashville.
“It’s a world-wide live event. We need to cover it as best we can,” said Dustin, who worked 17 years covering skating events for CBS Sports before forming Red Brick. “I knew Nancy (Kerrigan) and Tonya (Harding) before they were Nancy and Tonya.”
Dustin also helped coordinate the coverage for the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships that were also held in the Arena.
“It’s a great building,” he said. “They’ve done a lot of things right. It’s very TV friendly.”
He explained that most arenas built in Asia and Europe leave a lot of room around the skating surface. “Not many venues in the U.S. have this much space,” which will be used for everything from team staging areas to platforms for live cameras.
“ESPN can come in and do a Gonzaga game and it’s always the same,” he said. “But for this, everything from communications to camera locations to the event floor … is different.”
One of the new twists with the new event will be the placement of the “kiss and cry” space, which is where skaters go after their performances. Typically, skaters are herded into a box to receive the scoring.
But for the Team Challenge Cup, the skaters will go back to the raised-team area built by Garco and will have the “kiss and cry” moment in front of all the other participants and fans.
“From the TV’s perspective … they want the expressions, ‘Did I do good. Did I nail it,’” said Barb Beddor, who with Toby Steward helped attract the event to Spokane. “You get to see their reactions. But, they don’t want to be filming at such an angle where all you see is up their noses.”
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