How Lillehammer 2016 prepared a young reporter for Rio 2016
The Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games was always going to be a huge moment for Norwegian Journalist Vegard Skorpen after he secured a place on the IOC’s Young Reporters’ Programme.
The hard-working 25-year-old provides an insight into his home Games and how he has managed to enjoy professional experiences that many of his peers could only dream of. Less than six months after taking part in the IOC Young Reporter’s Programme at the Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games, Norwegian journalist Vegard Skorpen was covering the biggest sporting event of them all – the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
It marked a major step and has left Skorpen ready to face anything his career throws at him.
“It was so huge in every way,” he said of the Olympic Games Rio 2016, at which he reported on handball for the Olympic News Service. “I will benefit from it because I can always think ‘you’ve covered the biggest multi-sport event in the world, of course you can do this’.”
For the 25-year-old Oslo resident, Lillehammer 2016 was a key staging post on his road to Rio. Paired up with well-established journalists from all over the world, the IOC Young Reporter took full advantage of the opportunity.
“I got some insight into the minds of these professionals and got to speak to people who might have achieved more than I ever will,” Skorpen said. “I matured from it, I learned a lot from being around them. They gave me a different view on what is a good story.”
Skorpen also got a taste for the work that goes on behind the scenes.
“I learned a lot about how to prepare,” he added. “It’s one thing going there and thinking, ‘It’s ski jump so they have two skis on and they go 100m down the hill’, I actually learned tips about how to cover the sport in depth.”
This level of dedication sat well with a man who started as an intern at national Norwegian newspaper ABC Nyheter while still in secondary school. He has been there ever since, simultaneously pursuing an academic career that is now entering its final stages. The Olympic movement has long been a third strand in Skorpen’s work-study-work approach to life. In 2013 he was identified by the IOC as one of 35 promising young reporters. The prize, a trip to the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games and a truly unique opportunity to develop.
“I saw a chance to expand my view from the local journalism I had been doing,” Skorpen said. “It was a very good experience. We were baffled by the size of the event. I had the academics, now I also had the reality of it.”
One other key benefit emerged.
“Everyone brought their own style of reporting so it was discovering the different cultures of journalism. I benefitted a lot from this, coming back to Norway. I have become better at adapting to people,” he said.|
All of which led him to make the 180km journey from his hometown to Lillehammer a little more than a year ago possessing all the hard-edged objectivity of a seasoned pro. Despite this, Skorpen could not help but be blown away by his home Games.
“Sometimes I am too critical but even if I try I have a hard time to find something I can put my finger on when it comes to the Games. I’d say Lillehammer was an undisputed success in almost every aspect,” he said.
Not only did the athletes he interview “have the time of their lives”, but the impact has been long-lasting.
“The Young Leader programme, the volunteers, they are being used repeatedly by the sports federations in Norway. There are so many examples of the legacy.”
And the future for Skorpen? It is no surprise that he has one clear career target.
“I definitely want to do more Olympic reporting,” he said, his enthusiasm for the Games remaining undimmed despite the long hours and hectic schedule of his role at handball in Rio de Janeiro.“I got home from Rio and I think I slept for one week, then I woke up and thought ‘Yeah let’s have another Olympics’.”