STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — At 3:30 a.m. on the day before the Olympics started, Brian Gilmore was glancing at the giant television screen that dominates a workroom at NBC Sports Group’s headquarters when something caught his eye.
A luge competitor from India, Shiva Keshavan, had fallen off his sled during a training run and, somewhat miraculously, had hoisted himself back on while speeding down the course. Gilmore shouted across the room for someone to capture the video and asked colleagues whether they had ever seen anything like it.
No one had. Gilmore posted the video on NBC’s Olympics website and within a few days, more than 1.5 million people watched it.
Gilmore, a senior director at NBC Sports, is assigned to create viral videos for the Olympics. His job is to find moments — wacky, heartbreaking or heartwarming — to break out and post in the hope of generating the most online traffic possible.
“Our job is to find things that can resonate,” said Gilmore, who works with some four dozen people responsible for monitoring streams of every competition in Sochi and breaking out clips for highlight packages. Each person sits behind multiple computer screens. Clocks on either side of a 159-inch TV screen on the wall tell the time in Sochi and Stamford.
Somewhat improbably, Keshavan’s clip was the NBC Olympics site’s most popular clip for several days until Olga Graf blew by him. The Russian speedskater was captured by cameras after a race zipping down her Lycra uniform front to cool off, only to quickly zip it back up when she realized she had nothing on underneath. The clip was G-rated but still, more than 2.5 million people had to see for themselves.
Other popular clips include an interview with tearful American skier Hannah Kearney, overcome at the realization her career was ending with a bronze instead of gold medal; skier Todd Lodwick “photo-bombing” NBC’s Randy Moss as Moss reported on him; luger Kate Hansen psyching herself for competition with a dance routine; and a cross-country skier who pressed on despite a broken ski.