With all of the struggles we faced in 2020, global audiences are looking for something that can bring everyone together in unity and in triumph. The upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo will provide just that, and TEGNA‘s NBC stations are honored to be the Olympics headquarters for millions of viewers across the country.
As part of the NBC family for more than 20 years, Chris Egan, sports anchor for Kings 5 in Seattle, is one of TEGNA’s sports reporters in a unique position to share stories that fully showcase the power of inspiration our country’s hometown athletes represent. One of those athletes is WNBA star Sue Bird. Another one is cross-country skier Kikkan Randal.
With the #1 pick in the 2002 WNBA draft, The Seattle Storm drafted Bird, a point guard from UConn, where she won two NCAA championships. Not only has Bird gone on to win four WNBA championships with Seattle, but she’s also won four Olympic gold medals. In 2021, she’ll be looking for a fifth.
“As a sports journalist, I’ve gotten to know her well and see her behind the scenes at places like community events, youth basketball clinics, and charity events,” Egan said. “It’s been really special to get to know her and cover her Olympic run as well as her time with the Storm – from her very first press conference all the way to Rio when they were putting her fourth gold medal around her neck.”
Bird is just one of the many athletes in the Pacific Northwest that Egan has built a bond. “I’ve become invested with these athletes quite a bit,” he admitted. “I’ve watched a lot of them up close and gotten to see their hometowns, meet their parents, meet their coaches.”
But it’s the family aspect that makes the Olympics all the more special. Egan admits, “The best is when you develop a relationship with mom and dad, which is something you don’t necessarily do with the Seahawks, Mariners, or the Sounders. With the Olympics, you get to see parents who spend so much time traveling, watching practices, paying the bills. It’s the whole family going for these medals.”
Developing great relationships with local athletes is just one of the things that makes TEGNA’s Olympic coverage so special. “When Team USA team won the gold medal,” Egan says, “she (Bird) walked into the press area, pointed at me, and said ‘I’m talking to him first.”
Egan’s relationship with Sue Bird is just one of the amazing stories that Egan has to share – and just one of the athletes he and Team TEGNA have gone above and beyond to cover throughout the years.
Before the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Egan teamed up with fellow TEGNA sports reporter Dave Schwartz to cover the Olympic cross-country skiing team of Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins. “She was the only mom in those Winter Games,” Egan recalled. “We did a feature on her leading up to the Games. We spent a day with her, interviewed her, her husband, and we met her child.”
Flash forward to what Egan calls “one of the most magical nights I can ever remember.” Egan and Schwartz were together again and were among a small handful of American media, because as Egan explains, “the US chances of winning were not good.”
“But after one-quarter of the race, the US is in first place. Halfway through the race, the US is still in first place. Three-quarters of the race, and the US is still winning. Then Dave and I are looking at each other like, “Is this really going to happen? Are they going to win? Are we going to be the only ones representing these two American skiers up at this mountain?’”
“Sure enough, the folks I met in Alaska, Kikkan Randall, and her family, along with Jessie Diggins, who Dave had been covering in Minnesota, win the first-ever gold medal for the US in women’s cross country skiing,” says Egan. “It was just a magical night. And to be part of TEGNA to follow that from the beginning to the gold medals was just amazing.”
About TEGNA Marketing Solutions
Sports have the unique ability to unite and inspire people from every city and every nation across the world. At TEGNA, our NBC stations are honored to be the home to three of the most iconic sporting events – The 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, and Super Bowl LVI. It’s three world stages, three amazing showcases of unity, triumph, and victory. Contact us today to learn more and be part of this inspiring journey.