CSTV goes to extremes for Collegiate Nationals

Over the past 10 years ESPN has owned the extreme-sports TV market with its annual X-Games events but last month CSTV decided to go to extremes when it held the first-ever Collegiate Nationals.

From April 20-23, more than 1,000 young athletes descended on Reno, Nevada to compete in the first-ever college championships for events like snowboarding, wakeboarding, kayaking, boxing, beach volleyball and even a triathlon (that, due to weather, became a biathlon).
The network pumped out same-day coverage and ran daily one-hour specials during the past three weeks on the TV network and has also made the action available on a microsite and over satellite TV and radio.

It was a great first time out, says Patty Power, CSTV SVP of operations. It was the largest event in the network s seven-year history, with a number of mobile units from Boise-based NatWest, Line Video in Utah, and California-based Echo Entertainment handling shooting and editing duties. Echo Entertainment also edited the programs.

Both beach volleyball and boxing were shot using mobile production trucks while snowboarding, kayaking, wakeboarding and the triathlon were shot ENG style.

Event coverage relied on good-old fashioned Betacam cameras and decks but that didn t stop innovation. We had a small POV camera that was worn by the referees during the boxing matches, says Power. The Ref Cam definitely gave an interesting perspective to a boxing match.

Volleyball coverage was a five-camera shoot that also had POV cameras and also a jib. Everything was done in SD and was pretty straight forward, says Power.

The type of events weren t the only firsts for CSTV. Another first was the use of a helicopter during the triathlon coverage and the use of photographers on motorbikes for the cycling part of the event. There were a lot of logistical challenges but some of it, like the helicopter, was a lot less painful than we thought, says Power. That was a rewarding experience.

With all events shot to tape CSTV didn t get the chance to show off its live broadcast chops but that didn t lessen the challenge. The logistics of setting up the venues and dealing with some tricky weather pushed planning and staff to extremes only matched by the athletes.

With the network s first extreme sports event in the rearview mirror Power and company now turn to the next challenge: getting the Mountain West regional sports network up and running on Sept. 2. We ve been working with the Mountain West on transmission plans and are talking to NMT about partnering up to build some units.