Skiing cable down a mountain in Sochi isn’t part of the average job description, but this was just part of the extraordinary experience one Niagara College Broadcasting grad gained when, just months after graduation, he put his skills to work at the largest sporting competition in the world.
Austin Munday, 22, spent two-and-a-half months in Sochi working at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games as a cable rigger for Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS). Working 10- to 11-hour shifts beginning at 7:30 a.m., he and a crew of 16 would lay the audio and video cable for the host feed that made it possible for most of Canada and the world to watch the Games. At the Sliding Centre – home to the bobsled, luge and skeleton events – as well as the ski jump location, they staged spools along the track to have the cable run as required on the OBS map. This often required working together in a line pulling cable downhill for a few kilometers to reach its destination, then ‘dressing’ the cable back uphill to make it appear neat to the public. At the alpine location, they skied cables and tools down the mountain to their proper staging positions.
Munday enjoyed the experience of being in the mountains every day and working with the crew from across the country and the U.S. He also found the work highly rewarding.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to know that the cables you hold in your hand every day are the reason the world will be able to see and hear the Olympics,” said Munday. “It is something I will always be proud of.”
Munday believes that his education at Niagara College opened the doors to this opportunity for him, particularly since it came so soon after he completed his program last year.
While at NC, Munday worked an eight-month internship with Dome Productions, Canada’s leading sports mobile company, where he was trained as assistant tech support coordinator, aiding in the logistics of shipping and receiving broadcasting equipment. He moved on to assistant scheduler at the company’s Rogers Centre offices before he was hired as assistant tech support for the summer of 2013. He was also hired as a freelance television video assistant, which gave him the opportunity to work at Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Maple Leafs and CFL games and UFC events.
A few months after he worked a figure skating event with Broadcast Services International as a TVA, he received a telephone call from the company, offering him a job as part of the cable rigging crew hired by Olympic Broadcast Services in Sochi. He jumped at the opportunity.
“Five months after graduation, I’m halfway across the world, all because I chose Niagara which gave me the right attitude to get here,” he said.
Munday’s desire to pursue a career in sports media is what led the Simcoe native to NC’s Broadcasting program. He was particularly drawn to NC because it offers students the opportunity to run the college’s mobile sports truck to cover live sporting events. He also chose the College’s Broadcasting program because it was the only one in Ontario that offered experience in TV, radio and film.
While at NC, he enjoyed covering community events in Niagara and the surrounding region, from Junior B Hockey games to community festivals. After he realized that he preferred to be behind the camera lens instead of in front of it, Munday chose to focus on production in his third year and worked a camera position on the sports mobile.
Munday believes that his education and experience at NC has been essential in preparing him for his career. He valued the advice and one-one-on time he received from teachers as well.
“Niagara teaches you not only the skills you need to be successful in the industry but also the right attitude to keep moving forward in the industry,” he said. “Opportunity is hard work and that’s exactly what the BRTF program teaches students.”
Now that the Olympic Games are over, Munday is ready to embrace future opportunities that come his way.
“Niagara has given me the right attitude that has landed me this current job and will hopefully land the next and the next after,” he said “I couldn’t be more grateful for the time that the teachers invested in the program and in me to get me where I am today.”