Olympics on the Internet

By Terri Milner Tarquini

December 1, 2013

   In The Loop Extended Articles

Keeping pace with the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi will be a see-it-now, hear-about-it-now, talk-about-it-now experience where athletes, coaches, officials and fans can Facebook frequently, Instagram instantly, and hashtag to their heart’s content.

While NBC will be broadcasting the Winter Olympics traditional television-style, there are an increasing number of innovative non-traditional ways to get caught up and capture the Olympic thrill.

From Facebook and Twitter to hashtags and blogs, fans can be a part of all things Team USA through what will likely be an endless stream of posts, tweets, and entries.

U.S. Figure Skating is getting in on all of the Olympic excitement and fans can like U.S. Figure Skating on Facebook or @USFigureSkating on Twitter. Both sites will provide news, information and photographs, but will strive to provide it in different ways to what can be different social media consumers of the two outlets.

“We found in the past that people like Facebook, but they don’t want the events to be spoiled for them by discovering the results before they are able to view the event,” said Josh Ellis, web content coordinator at U.S. Figure Skating. “Facebook has a lot of followers, but what they want is different than what they want from Twitter. With Twitter it’s happening live and it’s posted live. It’s very interactive and there will be a lot of immediate posts. If you follow Twitter, you will know the results of the event as they happen.”

Athletes who are on Twitter will be listed on the coming-soon Olympic Headquarters website being created by U.S. Figure Skating, which will be updated throughout the Games with photos, blogs, schedules and information galore.

“The idea is, if you’re coming to our website, we want a spot where you can get all of your information,” Ellis said. “You will be able to find TV times, actual skating times, who has practice, what everyone is up to and who is on social so you can follow them. It will be a one stop shop for everything having to do with figure skating and the Winter Olympics.”

The website launch is planned to coincide with the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in early January for two reasons: the U.S. Championships is the last qualifying competition before the U.S. Olympic figure skating team will be named and NBC broadcast schedules will also be released around that same time.

“The idea of the blog I did for Vancouver was to give a hands-on experience,” said Tom Zakrajsek, who blogged for the Professional Skaters Association his journey at the 2010 Winter Games, but won’t know if he’ll be doing a second installment until he finds out if he’s going to Sochi. “It wasn’t just about coaching, but also general commentary and some hot topics and what the talk of the Olympics was on any given day. I wanted to show the cool atmosphere in the village with all of these sports celebrities, like me sitting at a table with Shaun White! Or the fact that there was this giant restaurant in the village where you could eat anything you could imagine. Or that Rachael (Flatt) and I got a lesson from the local curling team one day at the practice rink. It was fun to share it all.”

Beyond the blogs, posts and tweets, other means of following staying informed as to what’s happening is Google+, where fans can spend virtual time with the skaters through live video Google hangouts, as well as other pictures, news and updates by giving a +1 to the U.S. Figure Skating Google+ page.

“There are so many ways to experience this Olympics,” Ellis said. “We are hoping people will follow us to find out about everything. We will be giving more insight and more information than ever before.”