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Cameraman loving his shot at Olympic experience

By Rick Pusiak Two weeks ago Northern Life ran a story about veteran teacher and politician Sterling Campbell and his retirement after years in the classroom.
By Rick Pusiak

Two weeks ago Northern Life ran a story about veteran teacher and politician Sterling Campbell and his retirement after years in the classroom.
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Daryl Hackett is shown with wife Kim and son McCartni near their B.C. home.
During the interview Campbell mentioned one of his high school graduates from his old TV arts course in the 1970s was working at the Winter Olympics as a freelance cameraman for the CBC.

We caught up with Sudbury Secondary School graduate Daryl Hackett via his cell phone in Salt Lake City.

He was busy getting ready for another day of video shooting atop the mountain where snowboarding events are being staged.

Hackett is a big fan of that sport so he's right in his element.

"There was an NBC crew that was up here doing some feature stuff on some athletes and they didn't know where they could stand," said Hackett.

"I've covered this so long, I know these athletes, I know what they're going to do, I know the protocol, I know how far I can push the limits. When I'm out on the mountain, that's where I feel most comfortable."

Hackett was hooked up with a brand new Suburban for the month.

Every morning he loads up his camera equipment, and drives himself, the TV talent and an assistant director 45 minutes to the event site.

The competition highlights are endless. Hackett has particularly enjoyed the half pipe runs.

"The crowd was just spectacular and the athletes were pulling off some of the most amazing tricks I've ever seen," said the 39-year-old native of Copper Cliff.

Hackett is a proud Canadian and feels he is a representative of this nation while doing his job at the Olympics.

A big Canadian flag is affixed to the side of his video camera and there are numerous maple leaves attached to rest of his gear.

As one can imagine he was approached by many of our American neighbours and patted on the back when Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were initially denied figure skating gold.

"They (Americans) adopted this team as part of their own," said Hackett.

"At least three times a day an American from the organizing committee or just a volunteer on site (would say) 'we're so glad you guys got your gold medal'. You know at the end of the day... the general public is very happy that justice was served."

The Salt Lake City Games are the first Olympics since the terror attacks of Sept. 11. Hackett says increased security is very evident.

Every day the past two weeks, four to five times a day at various points his vehicle is pulled aside and everything is searched. Even the cameras are turned on to make sure they are cameras.

The process has been nicknamed bagging and magging. Bags are searched and the individual is passed through a magnetometer, an instrument that measures magentic forces.

Hackett makes sure to allow for at least one hour of security checks as he plans his day. The Salt Lake airport was pretty calm but National Guard were posted everywhere.

After the Olympics end today, Hackett will head to his new home base of Squamish B.C., a community about an hour outside Vancouver and a similar distance from Whistler.

He lives there with his wife Kim who hails from Kapuskasing. They have two children, a 10 year-old boy named McCartni and young daughter Jaime.

They moved from Ontario to the West Coast to be closer to all the snow sport events that Hackett works on.

When the family lived in Barrie he was on the road three weeks out of every month covering various competitions around North America and the world.

"There was too much travel," said the cameraman.

"I live by the motto 'you can always make money, you can't buy time'...this is the first time in 10 months that I've had to go away for any more than three or five days at a time."

When the Olympic torch is extinguished Hackett will resume work on a snowboarding show that airs on Rogers Sportsnet. He's also producing the Canadian National Snowboarding Championships at Mount Tremblant, Quebec next month.

Hackett says people who played a key role in getting him this far include his mother, siblings and Sterling Campbell.

"Growing up without a father at a young age, Sterling was the guy I looked up to and he always believed in me," said Hackett.

"If it wasn't for him, in all honesty I wouldn't be here because he was always a big supporter. I mean I was a little trouble making kid when I was in high school...he always said 'this kid is good, he just needs a bit of guidance'."

After graduation from high school, he went to North Bay for the television arts program at Canadore College.

He was hired as a program operator at radio station CJMX FM in Sudbury then moved to Barrie for a job at CKVR TV. Covering sports with a camera became his specialty and Hackett has shot everything from the Toronto Blue Jays winning the World Series to NHL games.

In 1996, after 13 years at CKVR he left the TV station to go freelance. He was cameraman for the show Pontiac World of Skiing, and has been sent around the world on assignment.

Hackett's family and friends in Sudbury are trying to get him a little recognition. They encourage people to log on to, click on "Olympic Connections" and go to the suggestions box to give Daryl a plug.