While many Islanders residents watched figure skating at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games from the comfort of their homes, Murray Anderson had one of the best seats in the house.
Seated behind the judges and next to event co-ordinators, TV producers and announcers in the Gangneung Ice Arena in South Korea, the Metchosin resident was just a stone’s throw away when figure skaters such as Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir hit the ice for performances.
“It was great,” said Anderson of seeing the action up close. “A lot of the athletes you’ve known them for a long time and you’ve seen them progress. The Olympics is a pretty good event to watch up close.”
For the past month, Anderson has been on a whirlwind trip. First arriving in South Korea in early February, he was contracted to compile music for the figure skaters, organize it, then, along with the help of six other Korean volunteers, supervised the playing of it at practices and during medal rounds.
It’s a passion that started in 1972 when Anderson was 16 years old and volunteered to play music for figure skaters in Victoria. Since then, he’s become one of the best in the business, and is often called upon to work at high-profile events for Skate Canada.
This isn’t his first go at the Olympics either. He also complied music during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Over the years playing music for athletes at various ice rinks, Anderson has gotten to know many of them. He’s worked with Virtue and Moir for several years – most recently in the Canadian championships in Vancouver – so to see them win the gold medal in South Korea in free skating in the last performance of their career was a moment Anderson will never forget.
“To see them move on to the Olympics and do so well is pretty good,” he said. “It was great. It was fabulous. They had taken a year off and proved that they could do it and did a great job.”
But Anderson admits he tries not to get too wrapped up in the excitement of the Olympics. Ultimately, it’s the job that comes first.
“Really the best thing is to be seen and not heard. I don’t generally seek [athletes] out,” he said. “If somebody skates by us and they recognize us, then that’s okay. But you’re not down there on the boards chatting to them. They have a job to do and we have a job to do … You don’t really talk to them until it’s all over.”
Even after wrapping up the Olympics, Anderson shows no signs of slowing down. In the coming weeks, he’ll be in Burnaby and Parksville playing music at other figure skating events.
In the end, Canada closed the Winter Olympics with 29 medals, behind Norway which finished with 39 medals and Germany with 31.