Lillehammer 2016 and a young reporter’s dreams of winter
David Lozada, from the Philippines, was a Young Reporter for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, and will be reporting once again on Lillehammer 2016. In the run-up to the Games, he writes about his preparation, the Filipinos’ passion for sport and his experiences in Nanjing.
I have always dreamed of winter. Growing up in a tropical country where we experience only the summer and monsoon seasons, the thought of experiencing snow is one that excites many Filipinos. We only see snow in western and animated films, and we only experience the feeling of winter when we go ice skating in some of our malls.
There is something in the cold that captivates the interest of Filipinos. We rush to our highlands and mountains on holidays just to experience cold winds and escape the humid temperatures of our cities. We proudly wear our jackets and sweaters during the cold months of December to February, even though the temperatures rarely go below 20 degrees Celsius. We save up to visit countries in the north during winter, when most nationals of those countries escape the cold to our beautiful islands.
When I learned in February 2015 that I had been chosen to cover the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games as an IOC Young Reporter, I had no words to describe my excitement. It was another opportunity to improve my storytelling and meet athletes who are the future of world sports. I was excited to meet my friends from Nanjing and hear about how the IOC Young Reporters Programme had kick-started and leapfrogged their careers.
Beyond these emotions, however, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed at the thought of covering winter sports.
Winter sports in the Philippines
Filipinos love sports. From our addiction to basketball to our recently found fascination with football, we go the extra mile to support the teams we love.
But winter sports are different. It is a very distant experience for us because of our climate. The only real winter sport we get to experience is ice/figure skating - and this is limited only to those who live in the capital Manila, home to the country’s three skating rinks.
Winter sports got a boost in the Philippines during the Sochi Winter Olympics, when our lone athlete 18-year-old Michael Martinez, who just two years earlier debuted at the first Winter YOG in Innsbruck in 2012, competed in figure skating and qualified for the free skate. Martinez placed 19th in the free skate, but his and his sport’s popularity soared in the country.
Covering Lillehammer 2016, then, gives me two challenges. First, I have to learn about all the winter sports so I provide excellent coverage. Second, and more importantly, I need to cover winter sports in such a way that they will capture the interest of my followers, who are mostly based in Southeast Asia.
Covering Nanjing 2014, gearing up for Lillehammer
The Nanjing Youth Olympic Games were a pivot point in my career. I echo my colleague’s sentiment that being a Young Reporter is a life-changing experience. It has opened many opportunities back home, and it has led me to a world I never imagined I’d be part of.
Prior to my experience in Nanjing, I had covered mostly disasters and development. Back then, I also had to learn and unlearn some of the things I know about journalism. While the basics of reporting remain, sports reporting is an entirely different world that requires additional skills. These skills and more, thankfully, were taught to us by our mentors in the programme.
Nanjing showed me how sports can bring the world together and how sports can change lives - not only for athletes but even for the journalists who cover them. As journalists, we are witnesses to the finest moments of the human spirit. It is our responsibility to share and describe these moments to inspire more people.
Because of the Young Reporters Programme and my experience in Nanjing, I know I will thrive in Lillehammer. I’ve been studying winter sports in the past months and I can’t wait to see the live action. The IOC has also been generous in making sure we, young reporters, are prepared for the cold days ahead.
In a few weeks, I’ll be leaving for Norway to cover a world I have never been to, in a climate I only dreamed of when I was young. There’s still a lot to learn and a lot to do, but I’m confident that I can face the challenges ahead.
Winter is coming - and this young reporter is ready to take on Lillehammer.