For 16 days, Katherine Reutter-Adamek of Champaign changed her daily schedule. To the extreme.
Up at 2 a.m. Stopping work at 4 p.m. Day after day after day.
She was happy to do it. And ready to try again in four years.
The two-time Olympic medalist in short track speed skating served as an analyst for her sport at the Beijing Games.
Like most NBC broadcasters, Reutter-Adamek worked remotely. That meant adjusting to Beijing time, which is 14 hours ahead of CU and Reutter-Adamek’s current home of Milwaukee. Thus, 7 p.m. in the Chinese capital corresponds to 5 a.m. in the Midwest.
After waking up at 2 a.m., Reutter-Adamek attended a production meeting each day at 2:30 a.m.
“Going over the plan for the day, which athletes were we going to isolate and relate to,” she said. “Who would the cameras zoom in on?” Who will we talk about? What part of their story does everyone back home need to know? »
At 3 a.m. there was a microphone check. Reutter-Adamek was able to talk to the people involved with his show: a producer, researcher, play-by-play partner Ted Robinson (working from Stamford, Connecticut), audio staff. They were on his ear at all times.
If she needed to chat with others during a run, Reutter-Adamek pressed the answer button. She was heard internally, but not live.
“It was amazing technology,” said Reutter-Adamek.
Daily rehearsals began at 4 a.m. The races started between 5 and 6 a.m. and ended at 8 a.m.
Reutter-Adamek and Robinson remained on call for the rest of their working day. Live coverage aired on USA Network, with taped segments airing prime time on NBC (WAND-TV in CU).
“We were called back during the day to express any changes they needed to make based on the lack of time,” Reutter-Adamek said.
She went to bed at 4 p.m. – around the same time her husband, Mark, a hockey coach, left for work.
Getting into the early hours wasn’t a big deal for Reutter-Adamek.
“Of all the transferable life skills I’ve learned through speed skating, knowing how to adjust my sleep schedule to different time zones is one of them,” she said. “I was very well prepared for that.”
Give NBC a gold star for prioritizing the health and safety of its employees over an outdated concept of feeling obligated to be there. Modern technology has come to the rescue.
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How did Reutter-Adamek land the gig? It all started with an agent she had worked with in the past, who put her in touch with NBC.
An audition was arranged and Reutter-Adamek was paired with Robinson, a longtime Olympic voice. He was on call when she won medals at the Vancouver Games in 2010.
“I know he told whoever was hiring that I would be a good fit,” Reutter-Adamek said.
A few days after the audition, she was called and asked “if I wanted the part”.
Reutter-Adamek came back with a quick “Yes”.
Few people have the skills to become an Olympic analyst. You need knowledge of the sport and comfort in front of the camera.
Reutter-Adamek has heaps of the old. From several angles. She was a top athlete in her field and continued in the sport as a coach.
She feels comfortable in front of the camera, in part because she’s been interviewed so often over the years.
One of those interviewers was NBC’s Andrea Joyce, who was the on-site reporter for the shorts and other events.
Both Robinson and Joyce offered their support when Reutter-Adamek’s comeback in 2018 fell short of the Olympics.
“I immediately felt at home with Andrea,” said Reutter-Adamek.
To have an impact
Reutter-Adamek used his experience to put viewers on ice. In a sport known for its last-second spills and unexpected twists, this was a huge plus for viewers.
NBC likes that it explains the sport so much from a coach’s perspective. She currently works with skaters in the Milwaukee area.
“They made it clear I could contribute something unique,” Reutter-Adamek said. “They encouraged me to listen to other color commentators for ideas, but to keep that part of me because that’s what made my color comments interesting.”
During this year’s Games, she watched replays of her calls every day.
Reutter-Adamek received numerous contributions from producer Lindsay Schanzer.
“She was very encouraging,” Reutter-Adamek said. “She was like, ‘Hey, are you okay. What more do you want to do?’
An important point from the producer: do not take root in the air. During one of the races, the American Ryan Pivirotto was skating.
“I made the comment on the line that aired that ‘fingers crossed that Ryan hopes he makes it to the next round,'” Reutter-Adamek said.
Her producer said, “We’re not really allowed to do that.”
Reutter-Adamek learned that it’s not “us, us, our team.” It’s “Athletes, Team USA, fingers crossed.”
On the third day of broadcasts, Reutter-Adamek began to find his groove.
“The first few days I feel like I overperformed a bit,” she said. “By Day 3, Ted and I were used to working together and understanding the pace at which each was speaking. From there it got better every day.
Reutter-Adamek is ready to work for the 2026 Games, which are scheduled for Italy.
“Absolutely. I’m already hoping they ask me to do it again,” she said. “That would be awesome.”
In March, she will participate in a call with NBC to talk about this year’s coverage.
Going forward, Reutter-Adamek plans to take a strong stand for positive coaching.
“I hope to continue educating coaches, athletes, parents and administrators that you can use positive training techniques without sacrificing performance,” she said. “There’s this mindset that ‘being positive is sweet’. Being positive is the right thing to do. not performance.
For more information, see the Reutter-Adamek website at