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Palm Harbor man voice of curling
By SHARON GINN
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 11, 2002
He's not quite the oddity that is Jennifer Rodriguez, the medal-contending speed skater from Miami. But Don Chevrier is pretty sure he is Florida's only curling announcer.
The 15-year Palm Harbor resident is moderately famous for it in his native Canada, where he spent nine years doing play-by-play for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s Saturday-afternoon Curling Classic. Chevrier and analyst Don Duguid (and for part of the time, host Alex Trebek) earned a following for their witty approach to one of Canada's most popular sports.
"It's a national institution up there," Chevrier said. "Every little town of 800 people in western Canada has got a curling club."
For NBC's Olympic curling coverage, Chevrier and Duguid are teaming up again, for the first time since their CBC partnership ended in 1982.
They've remained great friends, partly because they share a sense of humor, a trait that was evident on the air.
"We don't make fun of the game," Chevrier said. "We have fun with the game. It's not exactly brain surgery. It's light, it's entertaining."
Apparently NBC thinks so, too. Beginning tonight, the network is expected to give curling a lot of exposure over the next couple of weeks, mostly on its two cable networks.
What is curling? You'll be hard pressed to find a fellow Floridian who can explain it. Chevrier can, though, and he figures he'll do a lot of that kind of broadcasting. He swears it's not like shuffleboard on ice, but "more like chess on ice, because of the strategy."
"The difficult part for us is to adapt our terminology ... so Americans know what we're talking about," Chevrier said. "It will be very tutorial. Curling 101."
Chevrier, who also called curling for ABC in the 1988 Calgary Games, is known in Canada for more than curling. He also spent 20 years as the television voice of the Toronto Blue Jays. After several years of spending spring training in Dunedin, he decided to move to north Pinellas County full-time.
He won two "Nellies," the Canadian equivalent of the Emmy Awards, as sportscaster of the year. This is Chevrier's eighth Olympics. He has covered events ranging from opening ceremonies to hockey to boxing to speed skating to baseball, mostly for CBC, ABC and ABC Radio.
"This could be curling's breakout in the United States," Chevrier said.
"Not that it will replace golf in Florida, but it will catch on for a lot of people."
The Olympic curling tournament begins today with the U.S. men's squad opening preliminary play against Sweden, winner of two of the past five world titles and among the gold-medal favorites.
The U.S. women play Japan on Tuesday. Canada, the tournament favorite, opens today against Sweden, the team it beat at last year's worlds.
RATINGS WATCH: Lampooned for its poor ratings during the Sydney Games, NBC is off to a fast start. The 25.5 household rating for the Opening Ceremony -- meaning 25.5 percent of all U.S. households with televisions were tuned in -- made it the highest-rated Opening Ceremony of any Games, Winter or Summer. The past two Olympics in the United States, in Atlanta and Los Angeles, earned 23.6 and 23.9 Opening Ceremony ratings, respectively.
The network then pulled in a 17.1 rating for its Day 2 prime-time coverage, nearly unheard of for a Saturday night. By comparison, Day 2 of the 1998 Nagano Games, also a Saturday night, earned a 12.8 rating. It was NBC's best Saturday night rating since the Atlanta Games.
In the Tampa Bay metered market, NBC's coverage earned a 28.4 rating Friday night and an 18.7 rating Saturday night.
-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.
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