TSN anchor's dreams come true

By BILL HARRIS, QMI Agency

Sportscaster Jennifer Hedger used to have an Olympic dream. She wanted to be an Olympic gymnast.

"But once I hit 5-foot-11, I decided that probably wasn't in the cards for me," Hedger said with a laugh. "If not for that, I'm sure I would have made it, you know? As if!"

But in a roundabout way, Hedger will get her Olympic moment during the 2010

Winter Games in Vancouver.

Hedger, who can be seen regularly as an anchor on TSN, will be a big part of CTV's Olympic coverage.

So has Hedger always been an Olympics person, per se?

"I would say I was an Olympics person, but I would differentiate that by saying, I loved the Olympics but I would not breathlessly follow the World Cup circuit or amateur sport," Hedger recalled. "But my family was the kind of family where, when the Olympics came on, for those two weeks, every night, every day when I came home from school, we'd sit and watch the Olympics.

"And when you're a kid, you don't know who any of these athletes are, but as soon as you see the letters C-A-N beside their name, that's the athlete you're cheering for.

And if a Canadian wasn't in that event, then you waited for another event.

"The patriotism, when an athlete stands there and hears his or her anthem, and the tears are running down their face, even as a kid, it meant something to me."

Hedger said her earliest clear-cut memory of a Canadian Olympic success story was Elizabeth Manley winning a silver medal in figure stating in Calgary in 1988.

"The fact she was a cute, blond Canadian girl, and the fact it was figure skating, as a young girl that really stuck with me," Hedger said. "And for better or worse, those white cowboy hats in Calgary also stuck with me, probably."

Hedger admitted that when she joined TSN eight years ago, the thought of some day covering an Olympics never entered her head, since the Olympics were always on CBC.

"At that point, I'm sure I was thinking, I'd just love to go and see an Olympic games, let alone work it," Hedger said.

"So when the CTV-TSN bid actually won, I don't even know if it sunk in then. And certainly, just because CTV got the Games, it didn't necessarily mean I was going to be working them."

As it turns out, Hedger will be one of the main faces of CTV's Olympic assault.

"We don't want to be complete homers, but as a viewer -- and I've been a viewer all my life -- I care about the Canadians and I want to know what the Canadians are doing more so than any other athletes," said Hedger, when asked about her general philosophy heading into the Games.

"It's important that we are as unbiased as possible. We want to be proud of the Canadians, but not necessarily rooting for the Canadians in the coverage. But certainly off-camera, I will be rooting louder than anybody."

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