REDMOND, Wash. — Jan. 26, 2010 — Bloggers Amber Borowski Johnson and Dylan Derryberry are the winners of a Microsoft-sponsored, online contest to select two bloggers to write from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C. Johnson and Derryberry will go to the Games and blog daily using Microsoft Office 2010.
Amber Borowski Johnson, mother of two and an avid blogger, says that when the Winter Games came to her home town of Calgary, Alberta, “our entire community and school got involved — I took luge lessons in gym class.”
Johnson and Derryberry were two of 10 contest semifinalists chosen by a panel of judges, including five-time Olympic gold medalist Bonnie Blair and online video stars Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld from CollegeHumor.com. The public then voted for their favorite semifinalists online, and Johnson and Derryberry were selected based on the number of votes they received.
Each will take a 10-day trip to Vancouver and work alongside Team USA to blog about the team using top-of-the-line technology including Microsoft Office 2010 Professional and an Acer Aspire 4810 laptop.
Growing Up With the Olympics
Johnson, mother of two and an avid blogger, has a background in travel writing and journalism and is no stranger to the Winter Games, having been raised in Calgary, Alberta.
“The Winter Olympics are king in Calgary and are my favorite,” she says. “When the Olympics came to Calgary in 1988 I was 16, and our entire community and school got involved. Even my high school’s curriculum adapted to the Olympics — I took luge lessons in gym class.”
The anticipation of the Olympics made an impression on Johnson, and she recounts she wanted to cover the Games as a journalist, especially as her career as a writer progressed. When she later moved to Utah, she found herself once again living in an Olympic community, when Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Games.
“I even freelanced for a radio network during the Utah Winter Games, hoping to report on some of the sporting events, but was disappointed when I was assigned to cover traffic for the Olympics,” she says.
Is this contest win vindication?
“Not only is it exciting for me to go back to see the Games in my homeland, but now I have a chance to share the inspiring ‘behind-the-scenes’ athlete stories that I’ve always wanted to tell, in a fun and entertaining way — stories that the general media probably won’t write about,” says Johnson.
She’s looking forward to all of the events and has a special interest in the drama behind figure skating. She also enjoys men’s hockey and skiing. In fact, her 3-year-old son, Bode, is named after two-time Olympic alpine skier, Bode Miller.
“Also, I always joke on my own blog that I owe my life to the sport of curling,” she says. “My parents met because they were on the same local curling team in Canada.”
The Opportunity of a Lifetime
Dylan Derryberry, a sophomore at Colorado Mountain College, aspires to become a high school journalism teacher, and is thrilled his trip to the Winter Games will give him the chance to experience journalism firsthand.
Dylan Derryberry, a sophomore at Colorado Mountain College, aspires to become a high school journalism teacher. “Getting an opportunity to share my personal experiences from the Games and blog next to journalists from all over the world will give me the opportunity to see what it’s like to write about events while cheering on my country, which will be amazing,” he says.
Derryberry is an active blogger for his school, where he chronicles his college experience and the various activities held across campus. He wants to observe the professional reporters at the Games and get a feel for the career he plans.
“I’m most excited about seeing the Games — it’s the Olympics after all,” he says. “But getting an opportunity to share my personal experiences from the Games and blog next to journalists from all over the world will give me the opportunity to see what it’s like to write about events while cheering on my country, which will be amazing.”
Derryberry has followed the Olympics over the years, but says he has noticed the coverage can be quite technical. He’s hoping to give his blog readers a layman’s look at the events.
“Blogging is an interesting way to communicate because it lets a writer’s personality shine through, whereas other types of writing may not,” he says. “With blogging, I can be personal when I write, as if I’m talking to a friend sitting right next to me, and I think it’s more comfortable to write and read a blog.”
When he found out he had won, he said he was shocked: “I don’t know anyone who has gone to the Olympics, so this is a big, welcome surprise.”
Derryberry will also have his eye on one of his favorite sports at the Olympics: hockey.
“I’m also a huge fan of the USA hockey team,” he says. “I’ve played hockey for the past 10 years, which sounds odd since I grew up in Texas. But the Dallas metroplex has a great youth hockey program with a number of rinks all fairly close together.”