Karen Crouse tells Olympic journalism tales at Konover

 New York Times sports writer Karen Crouse talks about the small town of Norwich in Vermont, and the staggering number of Olympians it produces at the Dodd center on Monday Mar. 5. Her book was also available to purchase after the lecture ended. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

New York Times sports writer Karen Crouse talks about the small town of Norwich in Vermont, and the staggering number of Olympians it produces at the Dodd center on Monday Mar. 5. Her book was also available to purchase after the lecture ended. (Jon Sammis/The Daily Campus)

If covering the Olympics was an Olympic sport, you’d be hard pressed not to find New York Times writer Karen Crouse on the podium. With 11 (you read that right) Olympic games under her belt, including the recently concluded Pyeongchang Winter Games, Crouse might know more about five rings than Kobe Bryant. She arrived at Konover Auditorium in the Dodd Center with her new book “Norwich,” reporting on the small Vermont town of the same name, which has pumped out the most Olympians per capita of anywhere in the United States.

Crouse told the captive journalism major-filled audience some tidbits about this tiny town and what makes it so special. “Norwich has this turkey trot, this fun run every Thanksgiving,” Crouse said. “They actually do not put a starting line or finish line. They just let everyone start in a group and, you know, whoever finishes, finishes. They go through that much trouble to not let you know it’s about who gets first.”

In addition to her work on “Norwich,” Crouse’s decades of Olympic experience have led to some intense and personal stories from stars we know and love. She focused on Adam Rippon early in the talk, an openly gay American figure skater whose Olympic debut was last month at Pyeongchang. “Here’s a guy who finished 10th in men’s figure skating, he won a team bronze, but he seemed to have the most fun Olympics of anyone. I loved his attitude because he said he knew his chances of medaling in men’s figure skating were slim to none [...], but he had different goals; he just wanted to skate three clean programs, and he did. The emotion that poured out of him when he finished his long program, knowing that he had nailed it and that he had achieved his goal, was as inspiring as any gold medal moment I saw at those games.”

Eighth semester journalism and human rights major Paige Johnson was surprised about how prolific Crouse was, saying that although she was familiar with Crouse before the talk she “didn’t know how many Olympics she covered,” adding that she “really liked her covering of Norwich. The valuing and processing of sport over the end result is impressive, and I think it’s something that people lose track of a lot, unfortunately, with the ever-growing pressure to succeed. Things like that which makes the town so successful is really cool.”

Journalism professor Mike Stanton, who introduced Crouse, had much to say about the event. “Karen is a great role model for aspiring journalists and sportswriters in particular, because not too long ago she was in their shoes. She was a shy high school kid who couldn’t imagine asking a grown-up a question, but she really got hooked on telling people stories when she had that experience with an Olympic swimmer [Crouse interviewed Mike Bruner in 1976].” So heads up journalism students—keep prodding for interviews and you’ll get your big break eventually. Maybe you’ll come speak at UConn in 40 years.


Daniel Cohn is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.cohn@uconn.edu.