As television calls go in Winter Olympics history, announcer Al Michaels is likely etched in the top spot when he asked "Do you believe in miracles?" as the USA upset the Soviet Union in men's hockey in 1980.
Maybe it's time to add Chad Salmela of Duluth to that roster of all-star announcing moments.
"Here comes Diggins! Here comes Diggins!" Salmela screamed this week in the home stretch as Team USA overtook Sweden to win the first-ever cross-country gold medal for the United States. Diggins is Jessie Diggins of Afton, Minn., who Salmela has known since she was a teenager.
Salmela, 46, coached Nordic ski for 10 years at the College of St. Scholastica before switching to cross-country coaching a few years back. The school's men's and women's indoor track teams, in fact, will compete in conference championships this weekend in Superior, Wis., and Salmela has been in touch with athletes and his fellow coaches to prepare — in between the overnight announcing sessions for the Olympics.
Overnight? That's another thing about Salmela's call.
He made it in Stamford, Conn.
Despite whatever impressions you have from watching the Games, NBC did not fly every single announcer for every single sport to South Korea. Salmela and other announcers have set up shop in a sound stage in Stamford, where several booths for different sports are set up in the same room. The announcers watch and call the events live, meaning Salmela was screaming his head off while the rest of Stamford — and Minnesota — slept.
"They don't publicize it, obviously, because you want some authenticity to it," Salmela noted. "You can usually tell, though. If there's no on-camera shot of the announcers before the event, they're probably not there.
"I don't know if I'm supposed to tell you that, but that's the giveaway."
Salmela, a Mountain Iron, Minn. native, competed in cross country skiing and later on the U.S. biathlon team in his youth, before moving into coaching.
“Being a Minnesotan myself, it's pretty special. I don't regret anything.”
He worked with the Organizing Committee for the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002, which included doing public address announcing for biathlon (the awesome-looking skiing and shooting event).
That led to him moving to television announcing as a way to raise the profile of biathlon. He was an NBC commentator for biathlon and later cross country skiing in the 2006 games in Torino, Italy; 2010 in Vancouver; and 2014 in Sochi.
This is the first Winter Olympics he hasn't attended in person to announce.
This also isn't the first time he's become animated during calls.
"I think they expected it," he noted about NBC.
When Switzerland's Dario Cologna won gold at a down-to-the-finish 15-kilometer skiathlon in Sochi in 2014, Salmela at one point yelled "Cologna is away for the gold!"
As for this week's call that's gotten so much attention, Salmela said he was trying to give justice to the historic moment. No USA cross-country ski team had ever won gold.
"There's an argument that it was cheering for the U.S. too much, and it probably was," he said, addressing the dig of being a 'homer' — an announcer who overly roots for the home team without ever criticizing.
"I'm not a career commentator; my full-time job is a coach. I think that's the distinction,'' he said. "For full-time commentators, it's easy to keep inside a certain parameter of what's reasonable.
"And I don't think there's any doubt I went outside those parameters. My personal connection to the story probably bled through to the call," he added, noting he's known Diggins through the cross-country skiing world in Minnesota since she was 15.
"Being a Minnesotan myself, it's pretty special. I don't regret anything."
And apparently neither did NBC, given the network had hours after the event happened to edit the call before it was broadcast, which they did not do.
For the other Minnesotan in the moment — Diggins — her hometown hopes to plan a blowout party whenever she makes it back to Afton, including a local ice cream shop looking to name a flavor after her (Diggin' for Gold is one option), according to the Pioneer Press .
Will Salmela get similar treatment when he returns to Duluth next week?
Chad's Chocolate Chip?
Salmonella Salmela? Hmmm, maybe not.
Salmela isn't looking for that. For one, he probably just wants to catch up on sleep after two weeks of overnight hours. But he also said the attention is already starting to die down.
"The thing for me that's most valuable, in some small way, I've brought attention to a sport I love and a moment that's important,'' he said. "I just want to see my sport portrayed in the exciting way it can be, and the race itself was so good that it did most of the talking."