It should surprise no one who hears his commentary that NBC's Scott Hamilton takes it personally when he sees empty seats at an arena for an ice skating event or a lackluster launch to an inaugural Olympics team competition.
Hamilton is at his seventh Winter Olympics as a figure skating analyst. His signature is conveying to viewers the feeling that he's on the ice alongside the competitors, exhaling in disappointment at a slip or shouting in triumph when a skater smoothly lands a complicated jump.
He'll admit to leaning a little to the right in his chair to compensate if he sees a skater that's listing to the left.
"You're a part of their performance," said Hamilton, who will call the climax to the new team figure skating competition on NBC in prime time on Sunday.
"I think that's what makes skating so exciting, especially live when you're in the building and you see the speed, you see the explosive power of the jumps, when you see just how fast the skaters crank and the stamina of having to cover so much ice," he said. "It's extraordinary. It's phenomenal, and I think television doesn't always show skating in a way that people can truly comprehend what is being done."
As a skater, the 1984 gold medal winner for the United States said he preferred someone announcing his routines who felt the excitement and wasn't a dispassionate observer.
He's firmly in the camp of those who believe that to do the best job possible as a broadcaster, an analyst should have once been in the position of the people whose work they're commenting upon.
"To know the strength that it takes to come off a jump that might have gone off a little bit sideways, or the elation and the triumph that comes from hitting your most difficult jump perfectly, that is something that can only be communicated by someone who has felt those feelings," he said.
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