Curling is what got Andrew Catalon noticed nationally. Dave Strader has been known for years as a top-notch hockey broadcaster.
Catalon, a former sportscaster at WNYT (Ch. 13), and Strader, a Glens Falls native, will be heading to Sochi, Russia, to work on NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics, which get under way Thursday.
Catalon will be working his fourth Olympics for NBC, and his second Winter Games. He called the curling competition four years ago when the Games were in Vancouver, British Columbia. Catalon also worked the 2008 and 2012 Summer Games, calling team handball in 2008 and tennis in 2012.
“I’m pumped,” said Catalon, who is also a play-by-play announcer for college football and basketball for the CBS Sports Network cable channel and has called NFL and college basketball games for CBS Sports.
“I never thought I would do four Olympics, and to be going back for curling, which is kind of what got me started, is something special. I feel fortunate for all of these opportunities. I do feel the Vancouver Olympics really helped me with the other things I’m doing now at CBS. I attribute a lot of that to curling.”
Catalon didn’t know anything about curling when Carr-Hughes Productions in Saratoga Springs called WNYT, asking for one of its sportscasters to do a voiceover for a curling show it taped.
“I said, ‘I’ll do it.’ Why not? I’ll try it out,” said Catalon, who worked at the station for 91⁄2 years before leaving last July. “I didn’t know anything. I just set up the analyst. That was my introduction to it. It’s amazing what that one phone call kind of did for me.”
He is becoming very comfortable with calling the sport.
“I did get to do some in November and December with the Olympic Trials in Fargo,” Catalon said. “It’s definitely becoming more natural for me. Also, I know the players a lot more, too. A lot of the same faces from Vancouver will be in Sochi.”
Catalon will be joined by analyst John Benton and reporter Trenni Kusnierek. Catalon will have a lighter workload this time around.
“This year during the round-robin, instead of me doing all three sessions and working a very long day, [play-by-play man] Jason Knapp will be back in Connecticut [where NBC Sports Group is based], and that’s where [studio host] Fred Roggin will be, as well, and they’ll handle the one session I won’t do until the medal rounds, when I get to do all the games.”
Strader, who is one of the NHL play-by-play voices on NBCSN, will be calling men’s hockey at the Winter Olympics for the second time. He will work up to the semifinals.
He worked the 2006 games in Torino, Italy. Strader was the radio play-by-play voice of the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings from the team’s inception in 1979 until 1985, when he took over as the TV play-by-play announcer for the Detroit Red Wings.
It will be the third Olympics that Strader has worked for NBC. He called several basketball games at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, though he was not on site for that.
“It’s a great honor,” Strader said. “I went to Torino. That was my first Olympic experience. Then, for the London games, I called some basketball off of a monitor at 30 Rock [NBC’s headquarters] in New York. That was not like a true Olympic experience. So this is terrific. I’m most looking forward to the competition itself. The tournament’s going to be unreal.”
Strader didn’t get the opportunity to go to Vancouver.
“The Vancouver thing was a little weird,” Strader said. “I believe what happened was they ended up picking up some games from TSN or one of the other Canadian providers. Doc [Mike Emrick, NBC’s lead NHL play-by-play announcer] did the bulk of the work, and Kenny Albert did a few of the women’s games. It was disappointing not to go after going in ’06.
“Since then, I signed my deal with NBC full time, so I’m happy to be in the role that I am in now.”
Preparation for the hockey tournament should be easy for Strader since the majority of the participating countries’ rosters are filled with NHL players.
“That’s a big help,” Strader said. “Looking at these rosters and starting to go through them and organize them, about seven of the 12 teams are predominately NHL [players]. I start to look through some of the other guys that are on these rosters that either play in the KHL [Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League] or the Swedish Elite League and a few of the other elite leagues around Europe. When you research the name, you find that a lot of these guys were drafted and possibly even played junior hockey in North America and just didn’t make it and decided to play in Europe.
“There’s some background and history with these guys. I don’t think its going to be too difficult.”