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Tim Arsenault: Bruce Rainnie’s happy, gruelling Olympic curling marathon

Bruce Rainnie, left, Joan McCusker and Mike Harris, discuss Team Canada's 7-4 win over Norway in men's curling in the Gangneung, South Korea, on Thursday in this screen grab from CBC’s Olympics website.
Bruce Rainnie, left, Joan McCusker and Mike Harris, discuss Team Canada's 7-4 win over Norway in men's curling in the Gangneung, South Korea, on Thursday in this screen grab from CBC’s Olympics website. - Submitted

If it seems like Bruce Rainnie is always on duty when you tune in CBC’s Winter Olympics coverage, that’s because he is.

If there was an Ironman event at the Pyeongchang Games, Rainnie would be a contender. As the network’s voice of curling, he began broadcasting before the opening ceremony and he’ll be on the mike right up to the last day.

“It’s the monster of these Games, for sure,” he said during an interview before he left Halifax for South Korea.

“It’s certainly the first event out of the gate, and the women’s gold medal game might be the last event of the Olympic Games.”

Enjoy all the Armchair athleticism, follow the Games here.

Rainnie said he was told about 45 per cent of the total hours of competition at these Games will take place at the curling rink. That explains why he doesn’t really get a day off.

“No, but you don’t go there wanting one either. The Olympics are an interesting thing. I’ve left every one of them exhausted, yet you realize you were part of something special. One part of your head says, ‘I’ll never do another one.’ The other part says, ‘I can’t wait for the call to do another one.’”

Tim Arsenault
Tim Arsenault

Peyongchang is Rainnie’s eighth Olympics with CBC, a stat that’s growing despite no longer working there. His full-time gig these days is president and CEO of the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame in Halifax. Before that, he had a 23-year career with the public broadcaster that included frequent event coverage for CBC Sports.

Rainnie downplayed the political nervousness surrounding these Games as nothing new.

“In terms of sort of pre-angst regarding an Olympics, except for Sydney there’s been angst around every one I’ve ever done. Most recently, in Rio, you’ll recall Zika virus, poverty, poor drinking water, venues not finished, street crime. Prior to that, there was Sochi, and Putin and his stance on homosexuality, people worried about protests and violence.

“There’s always something, and with this it’s Donald Trump and North Korea. But it looks as though relations between North and South (Korea) are going to thaw to the extent that they’ll co-operate during the Olympic run.”

Rainnie acknowledged that announcing curling isn’t physically taxing, but the concentration required for an extended period can be challenging.

“The days begin with a wakeup at 6:30 a.m., and they end with a go-to-bed at about 11 p.m. It just rinses and repeats every day for 20 straight days,” he said.

“It’s not sightseeing, and it’s not a vacation. You’re not down in a mine or on a fishing boat; it’s not that sort of work. But in terms of broadcasting, you see a lot of rocks. You see red and yellow stones in your sleep.”

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