Our chance to showcase the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games to viewers across Canada as the world’s first Aboriginal Official Broadcaster is upon us, and we don’t intend to disappoint.

Over 214 hours of live coverage in eight Aboriginal languages, English and French, will be broadcast from coast to coast to coast, in standard and high definition.

This opportunity has not come easy. It’s taken years of planning, preparation and collaboration with other broadcasters. Perhaps the biggest hurdle (excuse the pun) we’ve had to overcome has been in the area of language. English and French sports coverage is pretty straightforward, but how do you translate “curling” or “luge” into Aboriginal language?

How do you say, “He shoots, he scores!” in Ojibway?

Has there ever been a colour commentator calling events in Inuktitut?

Cree?

Mohawk?

To make language programming of the Olympics possible, APTN had to embark on a search for people fluent in their Native tongue with broadcast experience. No easy feat.

To make this work, APTN changed its focus. We looked for people who were, first and foremost, strong in their language, with or without broadcast experience. Then we trained them to be on-air commentators.

Whereas most colour commentators in sport have actually played the sport and offer strategic analysis, APTN’s announcers will instead do what Aboriginal Peoples do best, they’ll tell the story.

APTN’s 2010 Winter Games coverage will be orchestrated through three hosted language shows: an Aboriginal Show hosted by Rick Harp (in English with coverage in eight Aboriginal languages), an English Show hosted by Mike Beauregard, and a French Show hosted by Charles Clement.

Some of the events will be exclusive to APTN, including select men’s curling, speed skating and women’s hockey matches.

In the spirit of the Games, we’ll also bring you Olympic-themed programming such as the inspirational stories of Tears and Triumphs and Chiefs and Champions, as well as simulcasts of Pursuing the Flame, the six-part mini-series which follows the lives of three Aboriginal athletes as they attempt to qualify for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

APTN’s coverage of Vancouver 2010 is slated to begin with the Opening Ceremonies, Friday, Feb. 12. We’ll simulcast the pre-Olympic show with CTV in English, starting at 3:30 p.m. PST with the Opening Ceremonies following in Inuktitut at 5:30 PST.

APTN’s live coverage will then continue every day from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. PST until the Games’ Closing Ceremonies Feb. 28.

Full scheduling details can be obtained through the CTV Olympics website, the APTN website and your local listings.

Let the Games begin!

Next month, watch for APTN’s spring program launch.

Make sure to log on to www.aptn.ca to see our full northern schedule and more information on current programming and initiatives, contests and memberships.