Peter Graves – The Voice of XC Skiing

FasterSkierDecember 9, 2002

There is a saying in cross country skiing that "You know
its a big race if you hear Peter Graves on the loudspeaker." Well,
ok, I made that saying up a few years ago, but it is catching on because
it is so true. And never was it more true than this winter when Graves
was the voice of cross country skiing, yet again, at the Soldier Hollow
Olympic Venue. We asked him to give us a little more info on himself,
so that people could get to know the Man Behind The Voice.

April 4, 2002

If you have
been to or competed in an Olympic cross-country skiing event, a US-hosted
World Cup event, or a US National Cross-country Skiing Championships anytime
within the last 15 years, you have heard his voice. If you have watched
OLN’s TV coverage of World Cup ski racing, NORBA mountain bike racing
or MTV Road Trip’s brief visit to Lake Placid, then you have also
either seen or heard Peter Graves. Not to be confused with the original
star of Mission Impossible, this Peter Graves has established himself
as an almost ubiquitous presence in the US Cross-country skiing community.

Graves (right) was the voice of Cross Country, shown here in Calgary,
and again in Salt Lake City

Peter Graves
was very busy during the 2002 Olympic Games. He was the associate producer
for sports production for the Olympics, meaning that he organzing the
live show at the Games. He was also the announcer for xc skiing events,
two days of jumping and the Paralympic Games. He also managed to squeeze
in announcing at a little side show called the Opening Ceremonies for
both the Olympic Games (seen by over one Billion people) and Para Games
and was the closing ceremony PA voice.

Many people
who know Graves only as a voice, rather than a person, might assume that
annoucing is merely his job, a way to earn a living. But Graves' relationship
with cross country skiing is much deeper than that. "My wife Jody,
son Willy (who is a nordic combined skier, 3 medals at this years JO's)
and daughter Katie are all skiers," says Graves. "My parents
were early skiers in Vermont in the 20's and 30's—it is in our blood.
I still love going back on the trails of Prospect Mtn. where I learned
to ski in Woodford, Vermont." The tress covered with snow, and the
smell of wood smoke from the cabins, it 's magic and brings me back to
another time."

Graves is 49 years old. He was born in Bennington VT, and now lives just
up the road in Putney. Graves skied 4 years in cross country at Mt. Anthony
Union High school in Vermont, then in 1970 went to Ft Lewis College in
Durango, CO on a xc ski scholarship to race under two-time Olmypic coach
Dolph Kuss. Graves says, "My ski racing results were not great, sometimes
I would creep into the top 10 in a Western NCAA Carnival race and I was
a member of the Eastern Jr.National Team in 1970 going to Jacskon Hole,
WY. I was 2nd in VT state championships in 1970, but hard as I tried I
was never destined for greatness as an athlete, but I always knew I wanted
to stay involved in the sport."

Graves turned to radio in 1975 as News Director at KIUP in Durango, and
then moved on to KOAT TV in New Mexico. But he soon returned to the cross
country community, this time on the business side. He served, from 1978-1982,
as the Marketing Director for NorTur in Minneapolis, importing Epoke,
Landsem, Swix and racing in their racing program."I was in charge
of their racing program. We did a lot of sponsorship in those days with
the Birkie and athletes on the US Ski Team," says Graves.

From there,
Graves went to work as Development coach for USST from 1982-84, where
he worked with Ruff Patterson (Director of Skiing at Dartmouth College),
Mike Gallagher (coach of the US ski team when Bill Koch won the World
Cup), Peter Ashley (head of the Nordic department at Fischer Skis, USA)and
Gary Larson (Chief of Competition at the 2002 Olympics). He was the Team
Leader for the 1984 World Junior Championships in Trondheim, Norway.

During that
time, Graves also kept up his broadcasting career by commentating at the
Olympics. He worked with ABC TV in Lake Placid (1980) as cross country
skiing commentator and then again with ESPN at Sarjevo (1984) and Calgary
(1988). He also found himself behind the microphone as the Cross-country
stadium announcer for the Calgary Olympics.

After leaving
the ski team, Graves was the Nordic Director at Giants Ridge in Minnesota
from September of '84 thru 1986. During that time, he worked with Gary
Larson to get a World Cup race at Giants Ridge.

Graves (right) interviewing Wendy Ingraham at the 2001 XTerra World

With this kind
of experience under his belt, he became North America’s natural choice
for announcing the continent’s biggest skiing events. He has worked
with Lee Todd on two Special Olympics World Winter Games and has been
freelancing as an announcer for the last 15 years with ESPN, OLN and TSN
in Canada. He has worked many other sports such as mountain biking and
triathlon, for the television networks. Graves can also say that he has
been the voice of every World Cup cross country race ever held in the
United States.

Even Bjørn
Dæhlie has a vivid memory of Graves, and was quick to point it out
to the crowd gathered at his Feb
7 press conference
in Park City on the eve of the recent Olympics.
Dæhlie good-naturedly recalled how Graves had been the announcer
for the December 1989 World Cup in Salt Lake City, which was Dæhlie’s
first World Cup victory. Evidently Peter was more focused on the performance
of World Cup hero Gunde Svan than he was on Dæhlie. Graves, according
to Dæhlie, talked glowingly of Svan, and overlooked the young Norwegian
who was not yet on anyone's radar screen. Graves nearly pronounced Svan
the winner before realizing his mistake. Graves was in the room when Dæhlie
recounted this story, and Graves took it in stride and even appeared honored
that the best cross country skier of all-time remembered him. It was a
classic moment.

Graves also
worked at most of the jumping World Cups in this country and at the 1987
Biathlon World Championships in Lake Placid.

The resume is
very impressive. But you get the feeling that even though Graves annouces
to millions of people, skiing is still a very personal pursuit for him.
"I love cross country skiing, and even though I am pretty busy announcing
and planning things these days, it is a sport that is deep in my heart.
I love the people, their work ethic. The sports rich history and culture.
It has been an enriching thing in my life and the life of my family."

One of the things
Graves enjoys most is the many people he gets to meet in his travels.
"Most of all I cherish the friends I have made in this sport,"
says Graves. "It is a family. The memories of all the travel are
unforgettable, I love the people in this sport, and I have considered
it an honor to play the role that I have."

Graves might never have been, as he says, "destined for greatness"
as an athlete. But his contribution to our sport goes above and beyond
what almost any single athlete could do. Anyone who was at Soldier Hollow
during the Olympics and saw how he was able to excite the crowd with his
booming voice, knows that he is a key asset for getting the masses excited
about our little sport.

Peter Graves'
famous tagline is "Hi I'm Peter Graves. Physical Fitness is my lifestyle."
And I think we are all fortunate for that.


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