186: Steve Porino: As a member of the US Ski Team to being the lead announcer for downhill racing on NBC plus calling the Tour De France, Steve has lived quite the life

January 15, 2021

Steve Porino

How did Steve Porino get introduced to skiing? “My dad is European. His father was Italian. His mother was Swiss. He grew up between Italy and Switzerland. It was during the war. So the name comes from the Aosta region of Italy and his parents were divorced. It was back and forth, again like I said during the war. Skiing was a big part of his life that his father had introduced him to. He first came to Canada where he met my mother. I happen to be the only American in my family. My sisters are Canadian. My dad’s Italian. But skiing was part of his heritage. But he was working as a banker in cities. He was working in New York City. He was taking the family up all the time to go learn how to ski in Vermont, and that is what the family did.”

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Steve Porino, NBC Sports Broadcaster and Alpine Ski Racer about developing as a skier while not growing up in an area known for skiing. “If you look at all of the great, not all, but many of the great ski racers in the world, it all started in places like that in many ways. It’s these sorts of fundamentals, and you are not distracted. Maybe you have a different opinion. But if you grew up in Sun Valley, you are kind of spoiled, right? Life is good. You’ve got these incredible mountains and sometimes it is hard to do the basics, do the arithmetic if you will, that makes you a great skier.”

What You Will Learn:

Steve Porino discusses some of the coaching he benefited from while developing as a skier. “Lindsey Vonn’s dad was one of my coaches, and she comes from a tiny little ski resort, and I don’t pretend to compare myself to her success. But, a lot of the greats come from these tiny little places where they practice the fundamentals and then in terms of passion, which if you want to reach a high level in anything, you’ve got to have the passion. From Wilmot Mountain, everything else seemed like the greatest place I’d ever been. That is sort of how I escalated through skiing as I became one of the best in the midwest.”

Steve Porino shares his experience of attending the Burke Mountain Academy. “My dad moved back to New York. I wanted to keep ski racing. I couldn’t do it in Connecticut. I went to a ski academy, Burke Mountain Academy, the first ski academy in the country where Mikaela Shiffrin 100 years later attended. But that mountain the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont seemed like Nirvana… it was 1800 feet. So I thought that was just the greatest thing in the world.”

What was Steve Porino’s introduction to downhill skiing? “I had no aspirations of being a great downhiller because I was a little guy. I went on my first downhill and I was really good. Then very quickly, suddenly I was going to a downhill out west, which at that point I hadn’t really been out west. As I said, I grew up in these tiny little ski areas and I was in Beaver Creek, Colorado with this downhill that was two minutes and thirty seconds, which would be my Everest-plus. That is long…These speeds are 70-80 miles an hour.”

What was life like for Steve Porino after his skiing career? What “It is a rough transition. We have all started our sport long before we made the decision to do so. In adult life, you make a decision to take a track in life. As a kid, you follow your passion in most regards. So, here you are ending a career when most people are starting a career and that is where I was. I was picking away at school and I think I used school to basically put my life on pause, not at the time, because I knew this is where I wanted school to take me. It was just time to delay whatever was going to come next, and I needed that time. I probably needed more time.”

Steve Porino discusses pursuing his college education after ski racing. “I started to get into coaching of skiing while I was finishing school at the University of Utah because the U.S. Ski Team ultimately paid for my schooling at the University of Utah. I loved coaching. My fear was that I wasn’t going to give myself a chance. I was going to go right back into the same world and not experience anything else. The one thing I knew about myself is that I like to do the thing you and I are doing right now, just talk to people and learn. That was the one great passion I had in addition to my ski racing career was traveling and meeting new people of different cultures.”

Alpine Skiing to ESPN

How did Steve Porino make the transition into broadcasting? “One of my idols as a ski racer who was a broadcaster at the time, Todd Brooker was his name. He was a crazy Canuck for people that followed ski racing back in the 1970s and 1980s. I tell this story a lot. He had to go to Burger College and that meant he had to open up a Wendy’s up in his town of Kitchener, Ontario and they make you go to college for three months. So he couldn’t work for ESPN. Someone threw my name in the hat and said, maybe Porino can do this. They had an audition with a few folks. I got the job. Todd Brooker came back from Burger College. They liked me enough to keep me around. They created a reporter position. It was a whole lot of luck and serendipity, and I had to then learn the craft on the job.”

Working at NBC During COVID-19

During this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, Steve Porino also talks about adapting his NBC broadcasting during the coronavirus pandemic. “Broadcasters, even broadcast teams, are in separate parts of the country, and there is a production team that is in Stamford, Connecticut. All through the magical engineering of NBC is that we are doing it from our homes. In my case, I had to get rid of all my bikes, buy a shed, and get those out of the garage, and transfer an ethernet cable into my garage. So, between my wax room and my Peloton bike is my NBC studio.”

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